28 March, 2006

LETTER: Bracks must protect Leadbeater's habitat

It is sad news indeed that only one Leadbeater's possum, Victoria’s state faunal emblem, remains in captivity after its mate died in a Melbourne sanctuary.

The possum’s survival is under threat because clearfell logging of the Central Highlands, including Melbourne’s water catchments, is destroying its habitat. It needs old trees with hollows for its nests.

Steve Bracks should act immediately to protect these forests and prevent the possum's extinction in its natural habitat. He should also protect the remaining forest habit of Karak, the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo which was the Commonwealth Games mascot, to assist its survival in the wild too.

ARTICLE: One left as possum dies in captivity

March 28, 2006

Only one member of the endangered possum species that is Victoria's state faunal emblem remains in captivity after its mate died in a Melbourne sanctuary.

Leadbeater's possum, which lives in the mountain ash forests of the state's central highlands, was considered extinct until it was rediscovered in 1961 and a successful captive breeding program started.

But the death of the second-last Leadbeater's possum at the Healesville Sanctuary has ended that program, author Peter Preuss said yesterday.

Mr Preuss, the biographer of the late amateur naturalist Des Hackett, said Mr Hackett had remarkable results breeding the possums in captivity. By the 1980s he was able to hand over breeding colonies to zoos throughout Australia, with the hope the offspring could one day be released in the wild.

"Unfortunately, the Leadbeater's possum is a very politically sensitive animal," he said. "Because their natural range is almost exclusively within Victoria's timber harvesting areas, Leadbeater's possums were never released. Instead, colonies were exported to zoos throughout the world."

"Today, there are just 1000 left in the wild and only one lonely individual remains in captivity (in Victoria)," he said.


Original article