Leadbeater’s possum given Critically Endangered status

By AAP with AG staff April 23, 2015
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Victoria’s animal emblem have been given the highest endangered status to save it from extinction

VICTORIA’S STATE EMBLEM, the Leadbeater’s Possum has been listed as critically endangered.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the decision following advice from the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee, as well as experts and the community.

“The challenges facing this iconic species are significant. It has undergone very severe population declines in recent decades with numbers having decreased by more than 80 per cent since the mid 1980s,” the minister said. “That is why we will be working closely with the Victorian Government to find a solution which will help save the possum for future generations.”

It means the Victoria’s faunal emblem will now receive the highest level of protection under national environment law, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Environmental groups welcomed the minister’s decision to acknowledge how close the animal was to extinction.

But establishment of the Great Forest National Park was urgently needed to protect the possum’s habitat, according to The Wilderness Society, while the Australian Conservation Foundation called for the end of the logging threat.

(Credit: Emma Campbell)

Leadbeater’s possum given a second chance

The possum, named after taxidermist John Leadbeater, was first declared extinct in the 1950s but was given a second chance at survival when a colony was rediscovered in a forest in Marysville in the 1960s. So significant was the occasion that Victoria made the small marsupial its state faunal emblem.

About 40 to 50 per cent of the Leadbeater’s habitat was wiped out during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, which devastated the Marysville community.

Leadbeater possum expert Professor David Lindenmayer, an ecologist from the Australian National University in Canberra has previously said that without urgent action the possum could be extinct within 25 years.

“The Australian Government is supporting Zoos Victoria to grow habitat for lowland Leadbeater’s possum and helmeted honeyeater populations. Through funding under the 20 Million Tree Programme, the Government will help Zoos Victoria to plant 112,000 trees at Coranderrk Bushland Reserve which will provide breeding populations of these species with suitable habitat to help their recovery,” said Minister Hunt.