Update on Leadbeater's Possum monitoring

4 June 2014

As part of the annual monitoring of the last lowland population of Leadbeater’s Possums, Dr Dan Harley, Threatened Species Biologist spent two weeks at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve with our friends at Parks Victoria to record the population’s condition and monitor breeding success.

Motivated by the dramatic population decline recorded in past years and with the support of the species Recovery Team, in mid- May, Dan and the team brought into Healesville Sanctuary’s care, three possums; two males and one female, to supplement the captive breeding program, currently made up of 11 Leadbeater's Possums.

Unfortunately the female possum’s condition quickly deteriorated and she passed away yesterday.

Healesville Sanctuary’s Dr Rupert Baker said “The veterinary team found some abnormalities in her reproductive tract.  We are doing further tests to determine the exact  cause of her death,” he said.

This event has saddened staff particular the team of keepers, vets and ecologists that work so closely with the species.

The two male possums continue to feed well and are behaving normally but will be closely monitored by the Sanctuary’s expert team.

The future of the Leadbeater’s Possum is closely intertwined with the Helmeted Honeyeater, another key species Zoos Victoria works with, as they both rely on the same territory.

The quality of the habitat has declined significantly for both species but we believe by having a strong captive breeding population in conjunction with restoring the habitat we can have a real chance at saving the Leadbeater’s Possum and Helmeted Honeyeater from extinction.

Zoos Victoria would also like to thank the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum and Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater for their tireless work in helping to fight the extinction of both species.