Mountain Pygmy Possum Reintroduction
To breed and reintroduce mountain pygmy possums into their former range in Australia
Three geographically isolated populations of mountain pygmy possums (Burramys parvus) occur at Mt Buller, Mt Kosciusko and Mt Hotham. These populations are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss (destruction, erosion and weed invasion), feral predation (dogs, foxes and cats) and possibly increased competition by other small mammals such as the bush rat. Climate change may also threaten the long-term survival of this species. In 2007 bushfires came close to burning the remaining habitat at Mt Buller. The Mt Buller population is at a particularly critical level, with an estimated 30 individuals left in the wild.
The overall objective of the recovery programme is to achieve a down-listing of the mountain pygmy possum from critically endangered to a lower threat category.
The Mt Buller population is extremely depleted in numbers and is the main focus of this programme. Zoos Victoria's key roles in the recovery programme include the development of a captive management programme for this species at Healesville Sanctuary to supplement in situ populations through captive breeding for reintroduction, and to maintain an insurance population in captivity in the event that the wild population continues to decline. Captive-bred individuals will be released over the next 5 to 10 years for in situ supplementation of the wild population at Mt Buller. In addition to the captive breeding programme, Zoos Victoria will also assist with population monitoring programmes and increase community awareness of the plight of the mountain pygmy possum to expand community support for its conservation.
WAZA Conservation Project 10015 is implemented by Zoos Victoria Healesville Sanctuary and the (Victorian) Department of Sustainability and the Environment. Other stakeholders involved in the project include University of Melbourne, Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Alpine Resort Management and Buller Ski Lifts Pty Ltd.
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