Prepared by Martin Schulz for
The Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISBN 0 642 55011 5
Part A: Species information and general requirements
- Conservation Status
- Objects of the Act
- International Obligations
- Affected Interests
- Role and interests of indigenous people
- Benefits to other species/ecological communities
- Social and economic impacts
Christmas Island Shrew Crocidura attenuata trichura
Currently listed Endangered under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The taxonomic status of the Christmas Island Shrew is unclear.
It was originally regarded as "a local variety" of the southeast Asian White-toothed Shrew Crocidura fuliginosa (Dobson 1888 cited in Thomas 1888), which is widespread in southeast Asia, including Indonesia (Jenkins 1982, Corbet & Hill 1992). This was because the type specimen collected by Dobson (1888) (cited in Andrews 1900) had a tail of 80mm, 10mm longer than the head and body length of 70mm, and thickly covered with fine hairs. However, in the ten specimens collected by Andrews (1900) the tail (range: 63-75mm) was typically shorter (in one individual by 10mm) than the head and body length (range: 65-82 mm) and in only two specimens was it slightly longer. Based on the morphological characteristics, Jenkins (1976) described it as a subspecies of the Gray or Long-tailed Shrew C. attenuata. The Gray Shrew occurs from the Himalayas southwards and eastwards through Thailand, Burma and China to Malaysia and Indonesia (Jenkins 1982, Corbet & Hill 1992). Corbet & Hill (1992) have since questioned the validity of the Christmas Island Shrew being considered conspecific with C. attenuata based on morphological characteristics.
Objects of the EPBC Act have been considered in developing this recovery plan, particularly:
- to provide for the protection of the environment, especially those aspects of the environment that are matters of national environmental significance;
- to promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources;
- to promote the conservation of biodiversity; and
- to promote a co-operative approach to the protection and management of the environment involving governments, the community, land-holders and indigenous peoples.
Objects e) to g) are not applicable due to absence of indigenous people and the species not being listed under international fauna agreements.
The Christmas Island Shrew is not listed under international fauna agreements.
Public authorities, private companies and other organisations with affected interests:
Commonwealth Government, including:
- Dept of the Environment and Heritage DEH (including Parks Australia North, Natural Heritage Division, CI Rainforest Rehabilitation Program, Approvals and Legislation Division),
- Dept of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)
- Dept of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS),
Christmas Island National Park Advisory Committee,
Shire of Christmas Island,
CI Phosphates Pty Ltd (Phosphate Resources Ltd) (CIP),
Union of Christmas Island Workers,
Christmas Island Tourist Association,
Department of Environmental Protection,
Asia Pacific Space Centre,
Telstra Corporation Ltd,
Monash University, and
Not applicable. Christmas Island was first settled in 1888; prior to this time there were no indigenous peoples inhabiting the island (Commonwealth of Australia 2002).
Threats identified and management actions proposed for the Christmas Island Shrew are similar to those for other threatened endemic species that are restricted to rainforest vegetation communities on the island. Actions affording protection to plateau and terrace rainforest will also provide protection for other rainforest-dependent species (Table 1).
The targeted survey for the Christmas Island Shrew may provide additional information on the current distribution, status and habitat of the poorly known Christmas Island Gecko Lepidodactylus listeri and Christmas Island Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops exocoeti. During the course of targeted field surveys for the shrew, incidental records of these poorly known reptiles should be entered into an 'Incidental Flora and Fauna Database' to be established by Parks Australia North (PAN ) on Christmas Island. The database should also include records of exotic species because of their potential threats as predators and competitors to native fauna.
|Christmas Island Pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi||E1, E3|
|Christmas Island Flying-fox Pteropus melanotus natalis*||DD3,*|
|Abbott's Booby Papasula abbotti (listed Sula abbotti on EPBC Act)||E1, CE2|
|White-tailed Tropicbird (Christmas Island subspecies) Phaethon lepturus fulvus||CE2|
|Christmas Island Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi||V1|
|Christmas Island Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus natalis||E1, CE2|
|Christmas Island Imperial-Pigeon Ducula whartoni||CE2|
|Emerald Dove (Christmas Island subspecies) Chalcophaps indica natalis||CE2|
|Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis||V1, CE2|
|Glossy Swiftlet (Christmas Island subspecies) Collocalia esculenta natalis||CE2|
|Island Thrush (Christmas Island subspecies) Turdus poliocephalus erythropleurus||CE2|
|Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis||CE2|
|Christmas Island Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops exocoeti||V1|
|Christmas Island Gecko Lepidodactylus listeri||V1|
CE = Critically Endangered; E = Endangered; V = Vulnerable; DD = Data deficient; 1 = Listed under EPBC Act;
2 = 'Action Plan for Australian Birds' (Garnett & Crowley 2000); 3 = 'Action Plan for Australian Bats' (Duncan et al. 1999);
and * = Recent evidence suggests the species has undergone significant declines in total population
numbers and its status is in urgent need of review (CIP pers. comm.).
Until it is determined whether the Christmas Island Shrew is extant, it is difficult to comment on the social and economic impacts resulting from management actions. The last confirmed records are from plateau and terrace rainforest, suggesting any development proposals and threatening processes affecting these habitats must include consideration of this species until further information is available. Similar to other endemic rainforest fauna that is threatened, the potential presence of the species could impact on economic activity or development. This arises from the listing under the EPBC Act, which invokes a range of protective provisions and offences where a population is to be affected. The magnitude of this potential impact is unknown, as it will vary with the location, size and extent of an affected population (once discovered), and the nature and extent of the activity, proposed or current.
Most fauna species on Christmas Island are endemic and some have the potential for attracting low impact ecotourism. The Christmas Island Shrew, although a cryptic component of the endemic fauna, provides an interesting 'story' as the only extant endemic mammal (excluding bats) on the island and the only Australian shrew. Such a 'story' may provide added appeal to tourists with a strong natural history background contemplating visiting the island. Rainforest rehabilitation, which provides employment for some islanders, may create potential habitat for the species in years to come.