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Friends of Leadbeaters Possum Inc. was established in 2004 to give a voice to these amazing but elusive forest animals.
Leadbeaters Possum habitat is impacted by timber harvesting (including salvage logging), bushfires, fire prevention activities (burn-offs and firebreaks) and climate change. We aim to help Leadbeaters survive in the wild by encouraging public awareness, supporting conservation efforts, providing nest boxes and emergency winter feeding (where appropriate), research programs and effective conservation strategies and policies. We are currently challenging the destruction of habitat by logging through legal action in the Federal Court.
About the Leadbeaters Possum
Leadbeaters Possum was declared almost certainly extinct in 1960 as no live specimen had been seen for over 50 years, since 1909. Then, in 1961, the possum was sighted by naturalist Eric Wilkinson near Marysville, 90 minutes east of Melbourne far from its original known habitat in the swamp forests of Western Gippsland. Previously, the last Leadbeaters Possum was collected in 1909. Since its rediscovery, a great deal of interest, research and awareness has been raised among Victorias zoos, biologists, community groups and citizens. In 1971 it was made the official faunal emblem of Victoria.
Leadbeaters Possum is a tiny, nocturnal creature with large eyes and a long tail measuring around 30 cms in tota length. It requires old growth eucalypt trees with established large hollows in a which it can build its nest. Each colony requires several suitable nest trees. As a result it is now located in small pockets of regrowth Mountain Ash forest with access to large, old hollow-bearing trees in Victorias Central Highlands from Toolangi, to Matlock and down to the Baw Baws. Leadbeaters Possum numbers are estimated to have peaked in the mid-1980s. From then, its numbers have declined. Bushfires and logging have impacted on its habitat and range.
Devastatingly, the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 burned around 45% of Leadbeaters Possums reserved habitat. There are now estimated to be around 2,000 Leadbeaters Possums.
Since 2009 there has been renewed scientific and community interest.
On the 22nd April 2015, Greg Hunt, the Federal Minister for the Environment announced that the Leadbeaters Possum would be listed as Critically Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
A captive breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary commenced in May 2012. The program originally comprised 16 individuals from the genetically distinct population at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve . They were housed as pairs in large enclosures off display. As at October 2020 there has been no breeding success.
Various community and environmental groups, including The Wilderness Society, My Environment and Great Forest National Park continue to champion for Victorias unique possum and liaise with both government and industry to create a safe haven.
We hope that some time soon an expanded reserve, the Great Forest National Park will be established that will provide Leadbeaters possum with a more viable future.
We celebrate Leadbeaters Possum and trust you will too. (sourced from website 1/11/2021)