A tiny pygmy possum has been discovered on Kangaroo Island for the first time since its habitat was largely devastated by bushfires that burned almost half of the island.
“There’s only really been 113 formal records of the species [ever on Kangaroo Island],” he said.
“So certainly not very common and, obviously, the summer bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them.”
Mr. Hodgens said that the small pygmy possum was a difficult species to locate and study, considering its small size.
The small pygmy possum, or Cercartetus lepidus, weights just 7 grammes.
Described as the smallest possum in the world, it can be found mainly in Tasmania, along with Kangaroo Island, and occasionally on the mainland of South Australia and Victoria.
Conservation group Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife uncovered a tiny creature earlier this week as part of a broader recovery effort in the aftermath of summer bushfires.
Two people died and nearly 90 homes were destroyed in the fires, with a large amount of wildlife killed.
Mr. Hodgens said that the group was completing comprehensive forest surveys to find out what species were left “to try to do everything we can to protect them to insure that they hang around during this pretty critical time”
“It’s very important now because it is kind of like the last refuge for a lot of these species that really rely on very old long, unburned vegetation,” he said.
More than 20 other wildlife species have been described, including a bibron toadlet, a southern brown bandicoot and a tammar wallaby.
He said that although it was fantastic news, there were still questions about other endangered species that had not yet been spotted, such as the native swamp rat.
“We don’t know a lot about that species because it is pretty rare around the island and also fairly susceptible to the wildfire events,” he said.
“Even with all fauna survey efforts and camera trapping that we’re doing, we’re still yet to locate an individual swamp rat.”