Cape York’s stunning palm cockatoo, known for its massive curved beak and its drumming displays, has been moved from ‘least concern’ to ‘near threatened’ on the world’s most comprehensive database of extinction risk information about plants and animals.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List changed the status of a range of Australian species last night, including the palm cockatoo and the Tapping nursery frog, which was ‘vulnerable’ and is now ‘endangered’.

The palm cockatoo is listed a ‘vulnerable’ under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and as ‘endangered’ in Queensland.

“Palm cockatoos can live for 90 years, they mate for life and they are world famous for using sticks to drum on the outside of nesting hollows,” the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature campaigner Peta Bulling said.

“Like so many other Australian birds and possums, palm cockatoos need hollows in mature trees for their nests. Their habitat is under threat from climate change fuelled extreme weather events like fires and cyclones, as well as mining.

“The Tapping nursery frog, which is found on a few tall mountains in Queensland’s Wet Tropics, is one of several species that is highly vulnerable to climate change.

“Droughts and heatwaves affect the reproductive success of the Tapping nursery frog, because it needs moist soil and leaf litter for its eggs to develop. It is one of many Australian frogs that has been added or uplisted in this update to the Red List.

“Australia has a terrible record when it comes to protecting our unique species.

“We are putting far too many species on the road to extinction – mostly because we keep destroying their homes for agriculture, logging, mining and housing estates.

“Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has set a target of no more extinctions and is overseeing a major reform of Australia’s environment law.

“To stop more Australian wildlife from going the way of the Thylacine, the government must urgently strengthen our environment laws so they tackle the big drivers of extinction – deforestation and climate change.

“Extinction is a choice. We need to stop destroying wildlife habitat if coming generations are going to be able to appreciate Australian birds and animals like we can.”

Header pic by Andrew Picone

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