Rare Pygmy Possums Just Got Rediscovered After Fears That Bushfires Wiped Them Out
Despite the fact that the year 2020 has been practically consistently horrific, the world has managed to surprise us with some very wonderful things, the vast majority of which are revelations or rediscoveries of previously thought-extinct creature species. For instance, as you may recall, the Somali elephant vixen was rediscovered in Africa after a 50-year absence, and the more prominent lightweight flyer was recognized as three distinct species after a lengthy period of not being viewed as so.
Recently, an Australian conservation group called Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife made a new discovery when it spotted a small pygmy possum that hadn’t been seen since the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires.
A little over a year ago, catastrophic Australian bushfires devastated nearly half of Kangaroo Island. For over a year, it was assumed that these delicate creatures had been wiped off the face of the earth after their home was obliterated by bushfires that devastated nearly half of Kangaroo Island. Fortunately, that was not the case.
“The situation for the small pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus) was unknown before the #kangarooisland bushfires in 2020. With most of its habitat badly burned, we’re thrilled to have rediscovered the species for the first time since the fires in the biggest remaining unburned area,” wildlife biologist Pat Hodgens wrote in a tweet announcing the rediscovery.
Several wildlife species were thought to be gone, including the cute little pygmy possum. As these sweet little pygmy possums are extremely tiny and were fairly rare to start with, finding them has been relatively challenging in general. “There have really only been  official records of this species ever on Kangaroo Island. So definitely not very common and obviously bushfires burned through much of the habitat that this species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them,” Pat Hodgenus told ABC.
As it turns out, the animal was uncovered as part of a bigger inquiry into whether animals survived the devastating bushfires. Over 20 different wildlife species have been rediscovered as a result of these efforts, including the tammar wallaby and southern brown bandicoot. Over twenty species have been rediscovered on the island as a result of the study, including the southern brown bandicoot.
Additionally, a Bibron’s toadlet “We’re going to do everything possible to safeguard them and keep them around during this fairly vital moment,” Pat Hodgens told ABC. “It’s critical now because it’s the last refuge for a lot of these species that rely on extremely ancient, unburned foliage.”
Additional information is available on FB Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife.