Glider sighting raises hopes

Rare sight: A greater glider possum, similar to this one rescued from the Victorian bushfires, was seen in the Royal.IT was thought the 1994 bushfires had seen the end of greater glider possums in the Royal National Park, but one was spotted last week.
Nanjing Night Net

It was first seen gliding across the road at dusk a few weeks ago by a bird watcher, but its identity wasn’t confirmed until last Friday night when it was sighted by Office of Environment and Heritage biologist Debbie Andrew.

Ms Andrew said confirming the glider was back in the Royal was a thrill for everyone associated with the park.

“We’re very excited about this find because this is the only mammal species known to be present before the fire and hasn’t been detected by surveys since then,” she said.

Extensive surveys of animals in the Royal in 1996, 1997 and 2010 failed to turn up any signs of the greater glider.

“I want share this find with all those people who volunteered their time to help with those surveys,” Ms Andrews said. “Although those surveys didn’t find evidence of these wonderful creatures, I want to let them know and acknowledge their fantastic help.”

Greater gliders are a large marsupial possum which can grow to about 90cm long, including the long furry tail. They are nocturnal, and spend their nights searching for their favoured food of eucalyptus leaves. During the day they shelter in dens in large tree hollows.

“We don’t know if this animal is descended from (one which) survived the fire undetected or whether its ancestors have made their way from the upper Hacking Valley or the Illawarra escarpment,” Ms Andrews said.

It was likely greater gliders were still rare in the Royal, she said, but more surveys are planned.

Because the greater glider never descends to the ground, Ms Andrews said the find underlined the importance of maintaining wildlife corridors between the Royal and Illawarra escarpment.

Posted by at 11/05/2018
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