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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Bogong Moth

Good news for the Mountain Pygmy Possum

The mountain pygmy possum (MPP) is a small animal of The Australian high country. Since, 2008, it has been declared by the IUCN Redlist as Critically endangered. Population estimates totalled less than 2000 individuals from the three combined isolated populations in 2000.

They are reliant on Bogong Moths to build up reserves for winter and for successful breeding. The lack of moths has had a significant impact on breeding in recent summers. But there is some good news from the 2020/21 summer.

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Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains

I am keenly aware that no Aboriginal group or nation ever ceded it’s land to the colonisers. So those of us living in Australia are all living on stolen land. There is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be resolved, starting with negotiating a meaningful treaty between First Nations and the rest of the people living on this continent.

For a long time, indigenous people and traditions were white washed out of mainstream narratives about the mountains. As traditional owner groups reassert their connection to Country, that is slowly changing, and we can see it across the Alps. The first Aboriginal person I knew who had a strong connection to the mountains was Eddie Kneebone, who I met through our campaign work in north east Victoria in the 1990s. He had an astonishing depth of knowledge. He was instrumental in the campaign to have the Niggerheads on the Bogong High Plains renamed. It got me thinking about the power of language and names.

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‘This is what climate change looks like’. Impacts on mountain environments

The Climate Council have released a report called This is What Climate Change Looks Like (available here). It has lots of good, albeit depressing, information about how climate change is already impacting on natural environments across the continent, including mountain environments.

Mountain Journal has covered these issues before – increased fire risk to Gondwanic remnant vegetation in Tasmania, threats to iconic species like the Mountain Pygmy Possum and loss of snowpack, but this is a succinct collection of stories about impacts on wild nature in Australia.

The report notes that ‘droughts, ‘dry’ lightning strikes and heatwaves are transforming many Australian forests’ including the alpine ash and snowgum forests that we know and love.

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Zoos Victoria launches campaign to help the Mountain Pygmy Possum

Each spring, Mountain Pygmy-possums wake up from their annual hibernation, hungry for nutritious Bogong Moths to eat so they can raise their young.

Bogong Moths normally migrate from Queensland, NSW and western Victoria towards Mountain Pygmy-possum habitats in the mountains. But for the past two years they haven’t arrived, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered possum.

Scientists believe the “astonishing” drop in Bogong Moth numbers is linked to climate change and recent droughts in areas where the moths breed.

Zoos Victoria notes that as well as other threats, such as drought and pesticide use, ‘bright lights from towns and cities are thought to lure and trap the moths along their migration route’.

With the crash in Bogong Moth numbers, Zoos Victoria has launched a program to help the general community to help the moths – and hence the Mountain Pygmy Possum.

Continue reading “Zoos Victoria launches campaign to help the Mountain Pygmy Possum”

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