Resurrecting the Leadbeater’s possum
The Leadbeater’s possum is in a lot of strife right now. Its survival is severely threatened by bushfire and clearfell logging in its Central Highlands habitat, and last month it was declared critically endangered by the Federal Government.
The species has always had a tumultuous history. The Leadbeater’s was discovered in 1867 and named for John Leadbeater, the chief taxidermist at what is now Museum Victoria. However, its riverside habitat in Gippsland was cleared for farming in the early 1900s, after which the possum disappeared entirely.
By 1961, the Leadbeater’s possum hadn’t been seen for over 50 years, and was considered almost certainly extinct. And then along came Eric Wilkinson. I spoke to him in March, at the very place where the following events transpired.
This excerpt comes from my upcoming audio blog series, to be launched on August 1. The debut episode will feature an interview with Leadbeater’s researcher David Lindenmayer, and I even venture into the forest myself in search of these elusive forest fairies.