Mount Hotham

Helping endangered pygmy possums find love

Critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums, currently separated by the Great Alpine Road, have been reconnected thanks to a new, specifically built 'love tunnel'.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) partnered with Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board and Zoos Victoria to construct the tunnel on Mt Little Higginbotham.

The $230,000 project, which was completed last month, saw the construction of a rocky corridor under the Great Alpine Road.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is Australia's only hibernating marsupial. The species was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered at Mt Hotham during the 1960s. There are an estimated 2000 possums left in the wild.

DELWP Natural Environment Program Officer Jerry Alexander said "The project is 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 of the road to the other.

"Female Mountain Pygmy-possums generally live in higher altitude, better quality habitat with deep 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 possible chance to thrive."

Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, Technical Services and Environment Officer, Georgina Boardman, said "A similar project was undertaken during the 1980s which had successfully increased breeding opportunities.

"The Board is working in partnership with the Victorian Government 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."

Biodiversity 2037 is Victoria's plan to stop the decline of our native plants and animals and improve our natural environment so it is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

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