Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why choose Secret Creek for Mountain Pygmy Possums

According to Prof. Mike Archer AM of the Palaeosciences Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences faculty of UNSW the fossil record of this possum lineage spanning the last 26 million years indicates that they have always been comfortable in cool temperate lowland rainforests from Queensland to New South Wales and Victoria, which is why Secret Creek is the perfect location. Trial releases will also be considered further down the road depending on the success of the Secret Creek breeding facility. 

Considering where these precious animals were once at home and now only exist in small pockets in the Australian Alps it should be obvious that if we don't do something soon we could lose them forever.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mountain Pygmy Possum - hope for the future

AEFI are working with scientists and researchers on a captive-breeding program as a last resort to save the species, while predator control aims to protect the few remaining possums in the wild.

The Secret Creek breeding program aims to:
1. Breed a population of possums for reintroduction into the natural habitat in case of further declines.
2. Provide animals for experimental introductions to the unoccupied alpine habitat in Kosciuszko National Park.
3. Assess the ability of the mountain pygmy possum to breed and maintain populations in a warmer climate.
4. To trial releases into areas of habitat less vulnerable to climate change, such as lowland rainforest and wet forest.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saving the Mountain Pygmy Possum

AEFI has joined forces with the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife to help save the world's only exclusively alpine marsupial.

AEFI's Secret Creek Sanctuary, will be the home of the proposed Mountain Pygmy Possum Captive Breeding Facility.

To make this project a reality, we need your help. For more information about the project and to donate, please visit the MOUNTAIN PYGMY POSSUM FUNDRAISING site.

Saving the Mountain Pygmy Possum

Mountain Pygmy-possums are in trouble and in desperate need of our help. The possum’s dilemma is that it only occurs above the winter snowline in boulder fields on the coldest slopes of the Snowy Mountains of southern New South Wales and the High Country of north-eastern Victoria and that snowline is rapidly receding.

The tiny Mountain Pygmy-possum hibernates during winter emerging in Spring to eat Bogong Moths, the seeds and fleshy fruit of the Mountain Plum Pine and Alpine Beard Heath, insects (caterpillars, beetles, spiders and millipedes), nectar and seeds. The possums’ main habitat of boulder fields and shrubby heathlands attract millions of migratory Bogong moths, providing the main food for possums in Spring, and protecting the possums from the attention of feral predators.

To survive the winter, the Mountain Pygmy-possum needs a good cover of snow to provide an insulating blanket as it sleeps during winter. Warmer temperatures and low snow covers are causing the Mountain Pygmy-possum to wake up during their hibernation, depleting their energy stores and decreasing their survival rate. Early snowmelt in Spring, before the arrival of migratory Bogong moths, deprives them of protein-rich food during the critical early Spring period at the beginning of the breeding season. This scarcity of food forces the possum to forage further afield in the surrounding shrubland, outside the protection of the boulder fields. This leaves the possums vulnerable to predation by foxes and cats.

Mountain Pygmy-Possum populations, habitat, available food sources and snow duration and depth are all monitored on an ongoing annual basis. Conservation efforts involving protection of habitat and control of foxes and cats are carried out and will continue into the future, but despite these actions, the populations are not recovering. In fact, numbers are still declining to levels where the loss of an individual possum can affect the survival of the entire subpopulation.

If this captive breeding program is not undertaken, the Mountain Pygmy-possum is sure to be walking the plank.