Leadbeater’s Possum Is Now Critically Endangered Due To Habitat Loss

By @hyaluronidase on
Possum
IN PHOTO: A baby Ringtail Possum peeks out from its makeshift '"pouch" during a photocall at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Anzac, a baby Ringtail Possum, peeks out from its makeshift "pouch" during a photocall at Taronga Zoo in Sydney September 1, 2005. A baby boom coupled with warm weather prompted the zoo to show off out a selection of baby animals, some who are being hand reared and requiring round-the-clock care. Reuters/Will Burgess

The federal government has announced that the Leadbeater’s possum, Victoria’s state emblem, has now been included in the list of “critically endangered” species. The government’s science advisers are now pressing on the need to stop logging activities in the central highlands of Victoria to save the species from extinction.

The threatened species scientific committee has advised environmental minister Greg Hunt to change the possum’s listing from endangered to critically endangered, a recommendation that Hunt accepted. The committee has made it clear that there is a decline of the species to more than 80 percent, with a predicted further decline by 2031.

Environment group MyEnvironment’s president Sarah Rees said in a report from The Guardian that having the possum go extinct would be “one of the nation’s most controversial extinctions.” She also said that the extinction can be prevented if only logging will be stopped to preserve the species’ habitat.

According to Professor David Lindenmayer, a scientist from Australian National University and a leading authority on the species, the listing should serve as an acknowledgement that the possum is in huge trouble and its habitat is in danger as well. “The committee has recognised the best way to save the animal is to remove clear-fell logging…,” he told the Guardian Australia.

The committee has stated that the primary threats to the species are loss and deterioration of its habitat. They reported that there are 42,685 hectares of forest in the central highlands that has been cleared out in the past four decades. Aside from deforestation, the 2009 bush fires have contributed to the further decline of the species’ habitat. Hunt said that he will be working closely with the Victorian government to address the concern on the possum’s habitat, stating that there is a need to “save the possum for future generations,” the Guardian reported.

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