Australian wildlife ecologists were delighted to find endemic pygmy possums surviving on Kangaroo Island after it was burned down by wildfires.
In what was the equivalent of finding a tiny needle in a haystack hundreds of thousands of acres wide, the possum’s survival on the island of South Australia is a sign that wildlife has escaped the nearly 200,000 acres burned. from this year’s wildfires.
Weighing just seven grams, and having been registered only 113 times officially by science, it was by no means obvious that the environmentalists and volunteers working for the NGO Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Natural Cercartetus—Pygmy possum – after fire destroyed much of its habitat.
The world’s smallest possum, C. lepidus, is found only on Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, and in very small numbers off the coast of South Australia.
Talking with ABC News AustraliaEcologist Pat Hodgens, who works with the NGO, said: “… the summer forest fires wiped out much of [the] habitat that the species had, but we certainly hoped to find them. “
“It is very important now because it is like the last refuge for many of these species that really depend on very old, long and unburned vegetation,” he said.
In mid-November about 16 people from the NGO respondents 20 sites, finding 200 different individual animals of more than 20 different species, all endemic and some in danger of extinction.
These included southern brown bandicoots, western and small pygmy possums, brush-tailed possums, and the tammar wallab, as well as amphibians such as the eastern banjo frog, common frog, painted frog, spotted grass frog, and Bibron’s toad. .
Australian marsupials are found nowhere else in the world and suffer from many invasive species due to predation and competition for food. Add in the destructive wildfires and your chances of survival seem nonexistent; but as we know from Jeff Goldblum’s role in Jurassic Park, life finds a way.
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