'Embarrassing': The Aussie species heading for extinction by 2050

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

We've asked the world's top experts to predict how Australia will look in the years 2030, 2050 and 2100.

Despite Australia having the worst mammalian extinction record in the world, most of us would struggle to name more than one species we’ve extinguished.

Other than the Tasmanian tiger, the majority of animals lost have been relatively specialised and obscure.

That’s about to change according to Darren Grover from non-profit WWF-Australia, who warns a number of iconic species will likely vanish from the wild in the next 100 years.

A graph shows a timeline of species set to go extinct in Australia, including birds, platypus and koalas.
Iconic species will become extinct in Australia due to habitat loss, according to predictions.

“It's quite embarrassing to be honest, and sad given that many Australian species are found nowhere else,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“So if we lose them here, there's no other place where they exist.

"Once they're gone, they're gone."

What Aussie species will go extinct in the next 70 years?

Conservation efforts have been made to protect birds like the orange-bellied parrot and the regent honeyeater, but both only number around 300 individuals.

This makes their populations vulnerable and they could still could be extinct by 2030 - 2035.

Left - land cleared in Australia shot from a plane. Right - a koala clinging to a branch.
Habitat loss is the single biggest driver of extinction in Australia. Source: Getty

Looking 30 years into the future, and zoos could be the only place to see koalas in NSW and Queensland.

By the time our children are old, our creeks may be empty of platypus.

Native animals that have shown ability to adapt will likely eke out an existence, so expect to see fractured populations of noisy miners, eastern grey kangaroos and brushtail possums.

The video below outlines Australia's extinction timeline in detail:

What's causing native species to go extinct?

Habitat loss is the primary driver of wildlife extinction in Australia.

Shamed alongside developing nations like Brazil, Bolivia, Madagascar, Borneo, Colombia, Peru, Laos and Mozambique, Australia is the only developed nation on WWF’s list of world deforestation hotspots.

Their 2021 report also singled out NSW and Queensland for their shocking rates of land clearing, and voiced concern about logging practices in Victoria and Tasmania.

Despite ongoing warnings from conservation groups, state and federal governments continue to approve the destruction of forests that support species like koalas to make way for houses, mines, farming and roads.

Habitat loss compounds the impact of other issues including feral predators and herbivores, bushfire, and climate change.

This video explains how habitat loss is killing Australia's wildlife:

'It's now our time': How extinction can be halted

Improving the conservation status of all of Australia’s threatened species could cost between $1.6 and $1.7 billion a year, according to estimates.

While that sounds like a lot of money, Mr Grover notes it’s all about context.

“We're going to buy nuclear submarines that are going to be probably tens of billions of dollars each,” he said.

“Well if we go without one of those, we could probably save 100 species.”

“I think these are the choices that we'll be faced with going forward, on what things are most important for Australians, saving our wildlife or doing some of these other things.”

Scott Morrison announcing the submarine deal with flags in the background.
Australia's prime minister recently announced a multibillion dollar nuclear submarine commitment. Source: AAP

Mr Grover said it’s a “really exciting time” to be working in conservation biology as the world is increasingly aware of the plight of Australia’s wildlife.

“It’s now our time,” he said.

“I think the time for serious wildlife conservation action is here, and we’re ready.

“We're ready to act and we're ready to bring Australians along with us on this journey.

“We just need everyone to step up and become involved.”

This video explains how Australians could help halt the extinction crisis:

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