Experts feared that the rare pygmy possum was extinct after Australia’s bushfires destroyed its habitat earlier this year. However, researchers have hope for the species after discovering some of the tiny marsupials on Kangaroo Island.
2020 has been an unprecedented year across the globe, and not in a good way. For Australia, the New Year was welcomed in through smoke and ashes as one of the worst fire seasons in history decimated the island continent. Along with the 46 million acres of land burned, several important wildlife habitats and animals were also destroyed. Conservationists and researchers are still fully assessing the extent of the damage through surveying land and seeking out specific animal species.
One species they weren’t sure they’d find ever again is the elusive pygmy possum. But around a year later, there’s hope: the little possums have been found!
Conservation group, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, shared that the pygmy possums were found during a fauna site survey. The status of their species wasn’t well documented prior to the fires, so their rediscovery was a massive success.
The status of the little pygmy possum (cercartetus lepidus) was unknown pre 2020 bushfires on #kangarooisland. With most of its habitat severely burnt we are happy to have detected the species for the first time since the fires in the largest unburnt patch #BushfireRecoveryAU pic.twitter.com/tSRjPunDZ8
— Pat Hodgens (@terrainecology) December 4, 2020
Fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens shared with ABC that the seven-gram pygmy possums were an uncommon find prior to the fires. Because of their elusive nature and rare sightings, conservationists feared the worst for the species after the majority of their habitat was destroyed. Experts believe pygmy possums are the smallest possum species in the world, making them difficult to observe or even detect.
The Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife conservation group has been hard at work conducting surveys, fundraising money, and cataloging their findings. They’re hoping to gain a better understanding of the full devastation that the bush fires had on the wildlife. As Hodgens shared with ABC, the group is working tirelessly to ensure the pygmy possums are protected as best as possible.
The rare possums aren’t the only wildlife that the conservation has discovered either. During recent surveys, they’ve located over 20 species of animals, including the southern brown bandicoot, tammar wallaby, and four-toed earless skinks.
To support their conservation efforts, donations can be made directly to Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Association Incorporated, a Registered Not for Profit Charity:
BSB- 105 094
SWIFT code: SGBLAU2S
Hopefully the rediscovery of these animals s is just the beginning of a series of good news.
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