Initially thought extinct, the tiny pygmy possum, also known as the world’s smallest possum species, has been found alive!
The tiny creature was found on the Kangaroo Island, Australia, for the first time since the devastating wildfire that hit the region a year ago. Due to the catastrophic blaze nearly 90% of the island was destroyed with so many species thought to be wiped forever. However, it seems that things look better than initially thought as over 20 animal species, including pygmy possum have been discovered alive.
The discovery had been made by the conservation group Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife. “This capture is the first documented record of the species surviving post-fire,” fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens told Guardian Australia.
The status of the little pygmy possum (cercartetus lepidus) was unknown pre 2020 bushfires on #kangarooisland. With most of its habitat severely burnt we are happy to have detected the species for the first time since the fires in the largest unburnt patch #BushfireRecoveryAU pic.twitter.com/tSRjPunDZ8
— Pat Hodgens (@terrainecology) December 4, 2020
Craig Wickham, the managing director of Exceptional Kangaroo Island explained for NewsWeek: “Despite nearly 90 percent of the tiny dunnart habitat lost to fires, numerous animal numbers have since been detected. Their sightings, via motion-sensing cameras, is heartening for the Island after fears that habitat destruction would decimate the threatened nocturnal marsupial recorded numbers of between 300 and 500.”
Native to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania, there have been only 113 recorded sight of the pygmy possum which was also occasionally spotted in South Australia and Victoria. Weighing around 0,35 ounces, the possum is extremely hard to spot.
“He’s certainly not very common and, obviously, the summer bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them,” Pat Hodgens said. “It’s very important now because it is kind of like the last refuge for a lot of these species that really rely on very old long, unburned vegetation.”
Last year’s bushfire season was absolutely devastating and it left a very deep print on Australia’s biodiversity with nearly three billion animals gone due to the blaze!