Monday, 3 April 2017

Six foot tall heavyweight Barnaby Joyce versus thirteen inches of Australian possum magic

A red-faced political brawler has decided to beat up on a shy, small nocturnal possum.


Gymnobelideus leadbeateri

Native to Australia
Originally known as the Bass River Possum
Estimated average length: 33 cm (13 inches) from head to tail

Critically Endangered (2015)
On International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species
Estimated wild population: 1,200 - 4,000 possums

Leadbeater's possum occurs in Australia’s tallest forests in central Victoria. Considered extinct until 1961, the species is now found in two subpopulations: a core location in the Central Highlands and an outlier in lowland floodplain forest. During the day, possums den in communal nests in the hollow centre of a large dead or living tree. A monogamous breeding pair and one or more generations of offspring den together. Feeding occurs at night with the diet comprising of trunk and branch exudates (80%) and insects (20%). [Australian Department of Environment and Energy, Species Profile and Threats Database, 2017]

Old-growth ash forest is prime habitat for Leadbeater’s possum. It is estimated that old-growth or multi-aged mountain ash forest comprised 30–60 per cent of the current ash forest estate in the Central Highlands of Victoria prior to European settlement. Old growth ash forest now comprises 1.15 per cent of this mountain ash forest estate (Lindenmayer et al., 2013a). [Threatened Species Scientific Committee, Conservation Advice to the Minister, 22 April 2015]

Bushfires, post-fire salvage logging and commercial timber harvesting, particularly clear-felling, are the principal cause of continuing loss of ideal habitat.

The Leadbeater’s Possum is the gazetted mammal emblem of Victoria [1971].

* Image of Joyce letter via Twitter

* Leadbeater's Possum photograph from

* Photograph of Barnaby Joyce from Google Images

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