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Nature Fundraiser: Remembering the extinct Christmas Island Pipistrelle


On 25th August Kelly Sheldrick, CCWA Citizen Science Program Manager will be running the Christmas Island Marathon in memory of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle that went extinct on 26th August 2009, a mere 15 years ago.

The Christmas Island Pipistrelle was the smallest bat species in Australia and previously endemic to the Island. It was considered wide-spread and common in the 1980s, in the 1990s a bat researcher, Lindy Lumsden visited the island for a holiday and soon became aware that the bat’s distribution and numbers had reduced. She returned to Australia to raise the alarm, but it wasn’t until 2001 when the pipistrelle was eventually listed as a threatened species and protected under the EPBC Act.

Finally, in August 2009 researchers went to the island to capture the remaining bats to set up a captive breeding program. When arriving they heard only one bat and were recording this bat’s echolocation calls when it suddenly went silent, and the bat species was never heard again. It’s considered the day the Christmas Island Pipistrelle went extinct.

Figure 1: Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi). Photo: Lindy Lumsden.

There are two aspects that led to the extinction:

  • The ecological impacts (these are cumulative ecological impacts including impact of invasive species, like predation by the introduced wolf snake, crazy ants, feral cats – just to name a few)
  • The impacts resulting from ineffective policy and management, in this case the slow response of government and ineffectiveness of our nature laws.

The race will raise awareness of biodiversity loss, species extinction, and the failure of government and policy to respond to a rapidly changing environment. It will also raise funds to support research into under-studied species and the protection of Australian native animals, in honour of the more than 100 animals that have gone extinct in Australia, including the Christmas Island Pipistrelle. 

The Christmas Island Pipistrelle shouldn't have gone extinct, but it did! It’s important we learn from this and do what we can to stop it happening again.

Actions you can take today:

Want to find out more about the story of the Christmas Island pipistrelle?

  • Join one of our talks – sign up for our newsletter to be kept in the loop about dates:
  • Check out John Woinarski's book - 'A Bat’s End'. The Christmas Island Pipistrelle and Extinction in Australia. CSIRO Publishing

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