Over 100 Australian “endangered” species, including the bogong butterfly and the gray-headed flying fox


The Australian bogong butterfly was once so common that swarms choked the night sky as they migrated to the Alpine regions of New South Wales and Victoria.
But overnight, the insect has been officially declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The organization has updated its Red List of Threatened Species with 124 Australian species.

Of these, 54 have been classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable.

The bogong butterfly has been declared vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. (CSIRO)

Additions included the gray-headed flying fox, classified as vulnerable, the critically endangered Arcadia velvet gecko, and several Kangaroo Island insect species, such as the murderous spider; also critically endangered.

In total, the Red List indicates that more than 40,000 species are threatened with extinction, or only 28% of all species assessed.

The critically endangered murderous spider, found only on Kangaroo Island, has also been put on the Red List.
The critically endangered murderous spider, found on Kangaroo Island, has also been placed on the Red List. (Dr Jessica Marsh / Museum of South Australia)

Australian National University conservation biologist Michael Braby told 9news.com.au that the decline of the bogong moth could spell disaster for other Australian species.

“They are key species, that is, they play a vital role in the alpine community,” said associate professor Braby, explaining that the butterflies used to breed in the lowlands before heading to the mountains. Alps.

“They use these summits for their summer vacation, to escape the heat.

“You are removing this species from the system it has an effect on. It is an important food source for the mountain pygmy opossum and several species of birds, for example. “

The Australian government donates $ 10,000 to the Preservation of the Mountain Pygmy Possum in honor of the birth of Princess Cambridge.
Moths are a primary food source for the critically endangered mountain pygmy possum. (Provided)

Drought was one of the factors that led to a sharp collapse in bogong butterfly populations in 2017, Associate Professor Braby said.

“The use of insecticides in agricultural areas could have an effect, but we are not entirely sure,” he added.

“We have to investigate.

“But climate change, drought and habitat loss have been critical factors.”

Bogone butterflies are found throughout South Australia, usually along the east coast.
Bogong butterflies are found throughout South Australia, usually along the east coast. (Australian Museum)

Why insects are vital for ecosystems

Associate Professor Braby said many people don’t realize the importance of insects in the ecosystem.

He explained that they play a vital role in pollinating Australian plants, feeding our native animals, and recycling nutrients in the soil.

A bat treated at Taronga Zoo in Sydney after the 2019-20 bushfires.
The gray-headed flying fox has been declared “vulnerable” by the IUCN. (Provided / Taronga Zoo)

“They provide the building blocks of our other animals – our birds, insects, bats, and so on.

“They play an extremely important role in nutrition.

“But they also promote healthy soil. In the larval stage, the young often feed on plant foliage or rotten logs, and in doing so, they return nutrients to the soil.

“They have a big role to play in breaking it down. If you lose any bugs, the ripple effects on Australian plants are horrendous.”

Margaret River Bushfires in Western Australia

Firefighters battle out of control bushfires in WA

“We currently don’t have a good idea of ​​the extent and magnitude of the decline in Australia,” he explained.

“In some areas of the country declines are being observed, but studies are patchy and different factors are involved, such as fires affecting species on Kangaroo Island.”

Devastation on Kangaroo Island as tourists cancel plans to visit a popular destination.
Almost 211,500 hectares burned in the 2019-2020 Kangaroo Island fires, including Flinders Chase National Park; one of South Australia’s most important ecological sites. (Getty)

Associate Professor Braby said scientists fear for the Banksia Montane mealybug in Stirling Range National Park.

Experts believe they have gone completely extinct due to repeated fires.


Comments are closed.