Climate change claims first endangered species


The loss of an endangered mammal is being blamed on human-induced climate change -- the first such occurrence in the world.

Human-induced climate change has been linked to rising global temperatures, the loss of ice sheets, the devastation of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the freakish mating of two different bear species and now, the disappearance of an entire species.

The only known population of the Bramble Cay melomys, which lived in Queensland, Australia have now disappeared, scientists say.

An extensive survey of the species was carried out between August and September 2014 after a smaller survey in March couldn't find any of the rodents.

More than 900 traps were used in the survey along with 60 camera traps. No record of the species could be found.

It's believed the last time the Bramble Cay melomys was spotted was in 2009.

The report, led by Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection's (DEHP) Ian Gynther, is pointing the finger at human-induced climate change.

Rising sea levels have swamped the cay, which typically live close to water, claiming the small rodents' habitat and potentially even their lives.

"Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change," the report concludes.

But all hope may not be lost -- there's speculation the population of the Bramble Cay melomys were from Papua New Guinea's Fly River delta.

It means the species, or a closely-related one, may rise again.

"Consequently, at this stage, it may be premature to declare the Bramble Cay melomys extinct on a global scale," the report says.

The report still recommends the species is officially reclassified from endangered to extinct within the Commonwealth and work to do so is currently underway.

While there's still a possibility the species may remain in the Fly River region, for the mammal's population in Queensland, they're giving up.

"Because the Bramble Cay melomys is now confirmed to have been lost from Bramble Cay, no recovery actions for this population can be implemented," Queensland's DEHP says.