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No Christmas for Pipistrelle -

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ELEANOR HALL: Scientists are warning that the rare Christmas Island Pipistrelle bat is doomed for
extinction.

A research team had attempted to set up a breeding program but its four-week mission to capture
some of the creatures failed to net a single bat.

And the scientists are now saying that the Pipistrelle's plight is a wake-up call to the Federal
Government to act more urgently to preserve other species on Christmas Island.

Dina Rosendorff has our report.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Bat expert Dr Lindy Lumsden says the tiny Christmas Island Pipistrelle is furry
and cute and sounds like this...

(Bats sounds)

But she may be one of the last people on earth to have seen this minute species in the flesh. Dr
Lumsden is the principal research scientist at the Department of Sustainability and Environment in
Victoria, she's also the vice-president of the Australasian Bat Society.

She led a team of eight bat scientists on a four-week mission to Christmas Island in a last-ditch
bid to save the endangered species from extinction.

LINDY LUMSDEN: What we were hoping to achieve was to be able to catch the last remaining Christmas
Island Pipistrelles and take them into captivity because they dropped to such critically low levels
that we were concerned that they were about to go extinct.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Sadly the mission failed.

LINDY LUMSDEN: While we were there, we managed to only find one individual, and unfortunately were
unable to catch that one individual, it managed to avoid all the traps and nets and everything that
we could set for it.

And then a week before we left, that one individual disappeared as well - and we couldn't find any
others.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Does this mean that the bat is doomed to extinction?

LINDY LUMSDEN: Ah, it's certainly not looking good. There's always a chance that there's some other
small pockets that we haven't been able to find, so it's, we can't say that it is extinct at the
moment, but it's certainly not looking good.

What we've got to do is use this as a real wake up call. Normally small insect-eating bats are
probably the most resilient species around; they're the ones that hang on in farmland areas, hang
on in urban areas a lot longer than what other species do.

If this species can crash to such low levels that it's potentially extinct, we've got to make sure
that other species don't do the same thing.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Local member Warren Snowdon says the Government has heeded the Pipistrelle's
plight and wants to avoid the same fate for other species on Christmas Island.

WARREN SNOWDON: What we've got to do is work towards how we can actually address those issues and I
note that Peter Garrett has announced - commenced work to address some of the significant
ecological challenges on the island by developing a reasonable recovery plan. I think it's very,
very important that we do that.

MICHAEL ROCHE: They acted late, very late when the bat was almost in critical decline, and I'm not
sure that they will act any earlier next time.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Michael Roche is the threatened species manager with the World Wide Fund for
Nature. He says the Government isn't doing enough to guarantee the preservation of other endangered
species.

MICHAEL ROCHE: They're moving away from a single threatened species approach to an ecosystem
approach and I think Mr Garrett has to realise that ecosystems are made up of species. So as
species go extinct, so inevitably will ecosystems and all the services and functions they perform
for human benefit.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Dr Lindy Lumsden says she hasn't given up hope that park rangers on Christmas
Island may still spot a Pipistrelle.

LINDY LUMSDEN: On the off-chance that there's another little pocket of them found somewhere that we
haven't been able to find as yet it will be reconsidered as to whether we'll have another attempt
to try and catch them and start a captive breeding program.

ELEANOR HALL: That's bat expert Dr Lindy Lumsden. She's the principal research scientist at the
Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria.

She was speaking to Dina Rosendorff.