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On the evening of 26 August 2009, the last known pipistrelle emerges from its day-time shelter on Christmas Island. Scientists, desperate about its conservation, set up a maze of netting to try to catch it. It is a forlorn and futile exercise – even if captured, there is little future in just one bat. But the bat evades the trap easily, and continues foraging. It is not recorded again that night, and not at all the next night. The bat is never again recorded. The scientists search all nearby areas over the following nights. It has gone. There are no more bats. Its corpse is not, will never be, found. It is the silent, unobtrusive death of the last individual. It is extinction.
This book is about that bat, about those scientists, about that island. But mostly it is an attempt to understand that extinction; an unusual extinction, because it was predicted, witnessed and its timing is precise.
A Bat's End is a compelling forensic examination of the circumstances and players surrounding the extinction of the Christmas Island pipistrelle. A must-read for environmental scientists, policy-makers, and organisations and individuals with an interest in conservation.
2. The conservation value and challenge of islands
3. The stage – Christmas Island
4. The unravelling of the Christmas Island environment – change, loss and response
5. The Christmas Island pipistrelle
6. Why did the pipistrelle disappear? – the drivers of extinction
7. Why did the pipistrelle disappear? – management and policy responses and failings
8. Personal perspectives, responses and responsibilities
9. Lessons and generalisations
John Woinarski is an Australian ecologist with a particular interest in, and concern for, threatened species and their insecure proximity to extinction. He has published widely on research, policy and management, with particular focus on Australian birds and mammals. He is co-author of the authoritative Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012.