ENDANGERED SPECIES OF AUSTRALIAN MARSUPIALS
Leadbeater's Possum, Gymnobelideus leadbeateri.
Leadbeater's possums are exceptionally rare, with less than 4000 individuals thought to
remain in the wild. They are typically found in the vey wet (over 2000 mm rainfall per annum)
Mountain Ash (Eucalypt) forests in the central highlands of the State of Victoria.
The area that they occupy is only 60 x 80 km and even this is under threat. There are two
main problems facing the Leadbeater's possum. Firstly, they nest in hollows of old
trees, of which there are very few due to the huge bush fires and droughts of 1939.
For a tree to be at a suitable stage for nesting, it needs to be at least 200 years, thus
there are currently very few nest sites and no new ones likely to emerge for 100-150 years!
The second big problem is that 75% of their habitat is in one timber
production area, the trees found in this area are very tall and straight, which are favoured by
the industry, unfortunately they are also favoured by the possums!
Northern Bettong or Brushtailed Rat Kangaroo, Bettongia penicillata.
The bettong was once widely distributed, but now it can only be found in four locations
in a 340km, North/South spread from Mount Windsor in Tableland to Paluma. This species is
threatened by changes in land use, burning and predation by dogs, cats and foxes. Not
only is it a tragedy that this species is disappearing, but as their population declines,
so too does the health of the forests they live in. Bettongs eat underground truffles
which they locate by smell. The truffles have indigestible spores which are passed through
the bettong and deposited in their droppings. Truffles benefit forest trees by increasing
their ability to absorb nutrients and water, and in return the tree provides sugars
necessary for the truffles' growth.
The solutions proposed for this problem are to increase known populations of bettongs
management and to translocate small groups from existing populations to other suitable
Finally it is hoped to monitor predators and determine what the best protocol for burning
in the area would be with respect to the bettongs.
Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, Onychogalea fraenata.
The removal of cover by sheep, cattle and rabbits, combined with heavy droughts has left this
wallaby with little cover in which to hide from predators. In conjunction with this, in
Queensland the clearance of 5 700 000 Ha of brushland scrub, almost 95% of this habitat,
type has left the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby in dire straits. Today there is only one
remaining population of approximately 400 individuals found in the scrubs
of Tanton National Park in Central Queensland.
Attempts to help these animals include trying to maintain existing population, establish new
populations in suitable areas and curbing
the populations of cats, foxes and dingoes.
Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus krefftii.
The Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat is possibly one of the smallest populations of marsupials
in the wild. A single population of about 65 individuals, with as few as 15 breeding females,
lives in the Epping Forest National Park, Central Queensland. The main reason why this
species is so endangered is that it typically digs burrows in deep sandy soil, a habitat
which is extremely fragmented throughout Queensland.
Trials are underway to set up a second population within Epping forest, as unfortunately
no other suitable sites exist in which to develop further populations.