Humane Society International is responsible for the scientific nominations behind some 73 species and 37 ecological communities that are listed as nationally threatened in Australia. These listings are the result of more than two decades of persistent research efforts and we’re far from done yet.
Having accurate conservation statuses recognised in law is essential for good decision-making and the prioritisation of resources. If we want to protect and recover nature we need a clear picture to help guide our actions.
Once a species is nominated, a government-appointed (though independent)scientific committee assesses whether the species meets one or more of several criteria for listing as either Vulnerable to extinction, Endangered or Critically Endangered.
During a thorough assessment the committee seeks the views of other scientists and stakeholders and then passes a recommendation to the environment minister as to whether a species or habitat should be listed. Politics should not get in the way and the species should be listed according to the science.
When a species or ecological community is listed, they receive better protection from inappropriate developments and their recovery is prioritised according to our current national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
In some (far too few in our view) instances a Recovery Plan is then prepared which the nominating organisation, conservation community and the public have the opportunity to comment on to ensure that the plan, if put in place, will improve the status of the species or ecological community as best it can.
But just because a species is listed, it’s sadly not guaranteed protection. HSI has to remain vigilant to see that threats are reduced and recovery is achieved well after listings.
We are continually advocating for the improvement and enforcement of the laws that are meant to protect at-risk animals and their habitats from further harm.
As a donor-funded organisation, we are so grateful for our supporters making all this work possible!
The grey-headed flying-fox, one of the largest bats in the world, covers a huge range along Australia’s east coast from North Queensland to South Australia. They provide pollen and seed dispersal for the more than 100 species of flowering and fleshy-fruited trees and are essential to forest and woodland health. Grey-headed flying-foxes are also of great significance to Aboriginal people.
Flying-fox roosts are increasingly surrounded by urban development, and since they are sadly not loved by everyone, local councils often make decisions to evict them from their homes with distressing disturbances.
The path to protection...
The work continues...
In the decades since their listing, HSI has frequently opposed flying-fox ‘dispersal’ actions and fought to raise the political will to use environment laws effectively and save the habitat patches vital to the survival of these threatened species. With grey-headed flying-fox's Vulnerable status properly recognised, we're able to better fight for these decisions.
Even with a Recovery Plan and Vulnerable listing in place, unacceptable ‘control’ and disturbance of grey-headed flying-foxes is still occurring. HSI (and others) had enormous success after several years of efforts in finally seeing shooting in NSW orchards ceased on July 31 this year – an achievement we are now looking to replicate in Queensland. So we must continue to advocate for these unfairly maligned animals at every opportunity and keep a careful eye on their trajectory.
The Australian sea lion is our only endemic sea lion, which means it is unique to Australia. It is one of the most endangered sea lion species in the world, with an estimated overall population of just 10-12,000 individuals.
Historically, the main threat to the Australian sea lion was commercial hunting which ended in 1949. Even though this hunting seems a distant memory more than 70 years down the track, the truly shocking numbers of animals killed left the population in a critical state.
The path to protection...
The work continues...
As with the grey-headed flying-fox, our efforts continue. The protection of a threatened species like the grey-headed flying-fox or the Australian sea lion or indeed any Australian animal at risk, both iconic and lesser-known, requires constant vigilance to prevent extinction. It's a long process but one that we're committed to. We're so thankful to our supporters who take action alongside us and generously donate to help fund this work.
Evan Quartermain is Head of Programs at Humane Society International and has been with the organisation since 2010. A member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Evan is responsible for HSI’s terrestrial habitat and wildlife protection campaigns and programs, with particular focus on legislative reform, flying-foxes, dingoes, and habitat protection through Threatened Ecological Community and Natural Heritage nominations. He also has oversight of HSI’s Wildlife Land Trust and Emergency Response programs.
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