Tunnel helping Mountain Pygmypossums find love
A NEW specifically built “love tunnel” has been created on the Great Alpine Road to help reconnect critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums.
The $230,000 project on Mt Little Higginbotham was made possible by a partnership between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board and Zoos Victoria.
The species that was thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in the 1960s is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial, there are an estimated 2000 remaining in the wild.
DELWP natural environment program officer Jerry Alexander said the project was being undertaken as part of the species’ recovery plan which also includes habitat restoration and predator control programs.
“At Mt Little Higginbotham, the Great Alpine Road currently acts as a barrier for movement of possums from one side to the other,” he said.
“Female Mountain Pygmy-possums generally live in higher altitude with better quality habitat and deeper boulder fields, while the males typically live lower down the slope.
“We are making it easier and safer for the males to travel and breed with the females, by linking their habitats.
“By increasing breeding opportunities, habitat restoration and predator control, we are giving this critically endangered species the best chance to thrive.”
A similar project was undertaken in the 1980s which had successfully increased breeding opportunities for the possums.
Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board will continue to work alongside DELWP and Zoos Victoria to preserve and enhance existing habitat, provide movement corridors and ensure that future development does not have an adverse impact on the species.