After months of waiting, a little pygmy possum has been found on Kangaroo Island in Australia. This is the first time that the tiny animal has been spotted after a wildfire ravaged the island last summer. The fire, which occurred in December 2019 and January 2020, has left a long trail of destruction, with its effects expected to last for decades.

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Kangaroo Island is the main home for the pygmy possum, although the animals can also be found in Tasmania and other parts of mainland Australia. It was feared that the fire had forced the tiny animals out of the southern Australia island.

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The pygmy possum was found by the Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife organization. This finding proves that the conservationists’ efforts on the island are bearing fruit. The organization has been carrying out various conservation activities in the area after the recent bushfire, which scorched about half of the island.

According to ecologist Pat Hodgens, this discovery is a significant step toward restoring the island. “This capture is the first documented record of the species surviving post-fire,” Hodgens told The Guardian. “The fire did burn through about 88% of that species’ predicted range, so we really weren’t sure what the impact of the fires would be, but it’s pretty obvious the population would have been pretty severely impacted.”

The pygmy possum is a tiny mammal that is found in limited parts of Australia. Although this species has been around for a long time, it is difficult to study, and little information is available on these creatures. Hodgens explained that the lack of sufficient data makes it challenging to understand the species, even as efforts are being made to restore its population on the island.

“Right now they’re highly compromised as a species,” Hodgens said. “They’re still not out of the woods because right now they’re at their most vulnerable — as the bushland regenerates they’re still very exposed to natural and introduced predators.”

Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife is continuing efforts to see that the remaining pygmy possums are rescued, and the organization is aiding in the revival of the species’ shrinking population.

Via The Guardian

Image via Phil Spark