[9] It was not discovered until 1867 and was originally known only through five specimens, the last one collected in 1909. Formerly, Leadbeater's possums were moderately common within the very small areas they inhabited; their requirement for year-round food supplies and tree-holes to take refuge in during the day restricts them to mixed-age wet sclerophyll forest with a dense mid-story of Acacia. Harley has estimated this population to be fewer than 50. From its peak in the 1980s, the Leadbeater’s possum population was expected to further decline rapidly, by as much as 90%, due to a habitat bottleneck. It was first described by western scientists in 1867, and they even […] Of its ash forest habitat, about 30% is protected, while the rest is allocated to logging. Once thought to be extinct, the Leadbeater's Possum was rediscovered in 1961. Most litters are of one or two young, which stay in the pouch for 80 to 90 days, and first emerge from the nest following this. [41][failed verification] The predation in early 2012 by a feral cat[citation needed] of the few Lake Mountain Leadbeater's possums remaining after the 2009 bushfire led to three remaining individuals being taken into captivity for their own protection. Highland populations of Leadbeater’s possums are found further east, in the tall, wet forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands. At dusk, Leadbeater's possums emerge from the nest and spread out to forage in the sub-canopy, often making substantial leaps from tree to tree (they require continuous understory to travel). The nest boxes are routinely checked for habitation every one or two years. That may not sound that exciting at first, but this possum, a Leadbeater’s possum, was supposed to be extinct. The group immediately appealed the decision by the presiding judge Justice Osborne, and the supreme court accepted there was a sound basis for an appeal to the original determination. [22], The only remaining population outside the Central Highlands is located at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve. The loss of hollow-bearing trees is the possums' biggest threat. The logging in 1993 of "much of the possum's habitat, known as zone one" a five hectare reserve east of Powelltown, followed a "mapping error". Leadbeater’s Possum and its primary forest habitat, the Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, are both Critically Endangered. [citation needed], On 14 September 2017, National Geographic reported that the Leadbeater's possum was the 7,000th animal photographed for The Photo Ark by Joel Sartore. Leadbeater’s Possum is an arboreal (tree-residing) marsupial. 2,3 Colonies of up to 12 animals spend about 75% of their lives nesting inside large trees that are 150-400 years old. An additional 50 nest boxes are due for installation in 2015–16. From its peak in the 1980s, biologists expected the Leadbeater’s possum population to further decline rapidly, by as much as 90%, due to a habitat bottleneck. [citation needed], Through a joint community/government program, "Project Possum" has installed approximately 200 plastic nest boxes in the wild. Leadbeater's Possum population crashes by two thirds in past 20 years: report. [40], Since 2004, the Friends of Leadbeater's Possum community group has been active in raising the animal's profile and lobbying for its conservation. Learn about its special habitat and why this tiny mammal is disappearing. Healesville Sanctuary's captive breeding program for Leadbeater's possums recommenced in May 2012 and now comprises 6 individuals from the genetically distinct Yellingbo population. With 43% of its known Central Highlands habitat[20] destroyed in the bushfires of February 2009 – large areas of forest around Toolangi, Marysville, Narbethong, Cambarville and Healesville – the species' status is currently in doubt. [28], Salvage logging since the fires has posed a further risk to this extremely diminished population[29] with clear-felling also approved by VicForests in the few remaining unburnt areas, such as the Kalatha Creek area of Toolangi State Forest in 2010, a move opposed by the Yarra Ranges Shire Council. As of 2013,[update] Leadbeater's possums are found in three habitat types: lowland swamp gum, of Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve; montane ash forest, wet sclerophyll forest dominated by mountain ash, shining gum and alpine ash with a dense mid-story of acacia species; sub-alpine woodlands of Mount Baw Baw, Lake Mountain and Mount Bullfight. [4] Clearfell logging and salvage logging (after bushfires) have been proven by the researchers to have been the greatest threat to the possums' conservation in the wild over the last three decades of the 20th century. Leadbeater’s Possum is listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 as threatened. But the people of Victoria are not going to … Approximately 45% of their prime habitat and population was lost in these fires. [27] Studies have shown that clear-felling operations, such as the logging run in state forest between the Yarra Ranges National Park and Mount Bullfight Conservation Reserve in February 2006, led to the deaths of most possums in the area—"Adult animals have a strong affinity with their home range and are reluctant to move". [38] Following uproar from the logging industry & the National Party it was soon placed under re-assessment. Victoria's faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's possum, will keep its critically endangered listing in a move federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has described as "the only appropriate decision". [citation needed], Des Hackett is credited as the first person to successfully breed the Leadbeater's possum in captivity. [26], Despite a joint federal and state government plan to save it, since the 1980s, the Leadbeater's possum population halved to around 2000[citation needed] even before the Black Saturday fires. The entire Central Highlands population distribution is confined to a 70 by 80 kilometre area. Numbers last updated November 2018 On the eve of an ABC 4 Corner episode on "Extinction" (24 June 2019) the then Environment Minister, Sussan Ley announced that it would be re-listed as "critically endangered". [33] During the case, film was recorded of a Leadbeater's possum in the contested coupe area. We are applying emergency recovery measures for the last lowland population that now contains fewer than 40 … The basis of their claim being that "VicForests did not undertake adequate pre-logging surveys prior to logging in an area that we claim meets Leadbeater’s habitat and therefore should not have been logged. Leadbeater’s Possum was first described in 1867 but by 1909 was thought to be extinct. The species is found only in Victoria, and lives primarily in the ash forests and sub-alpine woodlands of Victoria's central highlands, with a small lowland population to the east of Melbourne. A supreme court appeal was heard on 24 June 2013 before three judges and MyEnvironment was represented in court by Julian Burnside QC. [5] They also go by the common name of fairy possum. Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) is a critically endangered possum largely restricted to small pockets of alpine ash, mountain ash, and snow gum forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria,[3] Australia, north-east of Melbourne. There are now thought to be only about 1,500 Leadbeater’s possums left in the wild. The Leadbeater's Possum Advisory Group has now been assembled to foster this struggling species. Mt Ritchie, Dowey Spur, Ben Cairn) and sub-alpine woodland (i.e. The endangered Leadbeater's Possum is Victoria’s faunal emblem. Only about six inches long, not including the tail, and weighing about a quarter of a pound, the Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) may be tiny, but it is fast and feisty. The habitat required by Leadbeater’s Possum has been devastated by major fires on no fewer than three occasions in the past century – the 1939 Black Friday fires, the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, and most recently, in the 2009 Black Saturday fires. More than one million trees and shrubs were planted between 2014-2018. There is also a small population at Yellingbo, about 50 km east of Melbourne. Since then it has been recorded at approximately 300 localities, over an are… [17], Leadbeater's possums are rarely seen as they are nocturnal, fast-moving, and occupy the upper storey of some of the tallest forest trees in the world. 2003; Hansen et al. They are small and speedy, sleeping in hollow trees during the day and feeding on insects and sweet nectar at night. [8] A study in 2014 concluded there is a 92% chance the Leadbeater's ecosystem in the Victoria central highlands will collapse within 50 years. [8][13] Then, on 3 April 1961, a member of the species was rediscovered by naturalist Eric Wilkinson in the forests near Cambarville, and the first specimen in more than 50 years was captured later in the month. Now, after the fires, there are estimated to be less than 1,000. Leadbeater's Possum was thought to be extinct following no records for 50 years when it was rediscovered in the Central Highlands of Victoria (Wilkinson 1961). The evolution of leadbeater possum had begun 20 million years ago. Many more were killed early in 2007 when the government-backed enterprise company, VicForests, bulldozed large firebreaks through Leadbeater's monitoring stations following the Christmas fires – firebreaks and clear-felling also prevent breeding with nearby colonies. Births are usually timed for the beginning of winter (May and June) or late spring (October and November). [11] Other juvenile females are weaned off before they reach sexual maturity. [44], The predation in early 2012 by a feral cat, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T9564A21959976.en, "Regional Forest Agreement CENTRAL HIGHLANDS - Updated Map", "Faunal Emblems for the State of Victoria", "Government-backed logging 'pushing rare possum towards extinction", "How to save a forest fairy from extinction", "Lost & Found - Once upon a time, there was an adventurer", "Leadbeater's possum habitat 'almost certain to collapse' due to logging, fires", "A million native animals may have died in Victorian bushfires", "Government moves to save Victoria's iconic Leadbeater's possum", "Hello possum, you're an emblem of extinction", "Death puts spotlight on Leadbeater plight", "After the fire: Leadbeater's long journey", "Faunal Emblem Threatened: The animal victims of Black Saturday", "Toolangi logging threatens rare possum, court told", Feral cats filmed preying on nesting Leadbeater's possums, "Native woodchipping sector in rapid decline", "Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Bill 2013", "Conservationists fear Victoria's cuts to logging green tape", "Leadbeater's possum: conservationists say draft report proves endangered status", "Three Leadbeater's Possums from Lake Mountain brought into care", "Endangered possums taken to wildlife sanctuary", images and movies of the Leadbeater's possum (, Lost and Found: the Rediscovery of Leadbeater's Possum, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Leadbeater%27s_possum&oldid=992317607, IUCN Red List critically endangered species, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2013, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2017, Articles with unsourced statements from August 2012, Articles with failed verification from April 2017, Articles containing potentially dated statements from May 2015, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Close relatives of Leadbeater's possum are the, This page was last edited on 4 December 2020, at 17:15. The endangered Leadbeater's Possum is Victoria’s faunal emblem. 8:19 AM. In wet eucalypt forests (including Mountain Ash trees and Alpine Ash trees), Leadbeater’s Possum typically inhabits areas containing numerous large old trees with hollows and an understorey of wattles. On 22 April 2015, it was decided to relist the species as critically endangered. The Leadbeater's population, before the fires of 2009, numbered between 2,000 and 2,500 individuals. According to The Wilderness Society, "the Victorian government ... [is] virtually signing the death warrant of the remaining 500 or so Leadbeater's possums. [21] Consequently, in December 2012, David Lindenmayer and Zoos Victoria's threatened species biologist, Dan Harley, submitted an application to the federal government for a revision of the species status, providing evidence that it should be relisted as critically endangered. [36][37], On 22 April 2015, Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment, announced that the Leadbeater's possum would be listed as a "critically endangered" species under the EPBC Act.[22]. [39] The park would protect the area between Kinglake, Baw Baw and Eildon national parks, which is also important for Melbourne's drinking water and as a carbon sink. [34], On 27 June 2013 the Napthine led State government passed legislative changes to allow VicForests access to Victoria's forests for the next 25 years and to be self monitoring (this follows the success of other recent cases preventing logging of remaining possum habitat). Their diet is omnivorous: feeding on a range of wattle saps and exudates, lerps, and a high proportion of arthropods which they find under the loose bark of eucalypts, including spiders, crickets, termites and beetles. These possums rely on tree hollows, in which small colonies of up to 12 will sleep together. Particularly, the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires destroyed 43% of Leadbeater’s possums’ habitat in the Central Highlands. To make matters worse, bushfires tore through Victoria in 2009, destroying about 40% of the possums’ habitat and halving the possum’s wild population. The genetic data in this collection were derived from two sources (1) genotypes for a panel of 15-20 highly resolving microsatellite markers, and (2) 30 unique mitochondrial D-loop sequences (haplotypes). The Leadbeater's possum is a small, fast-moving arboreal marsupial possum that lives high in the treetops of old-growth forests in a very small habitat in Victoria, Australia.It scampers along branches in the forest canopy and leaps gracefully from one tree to another. Post-fire estimates are sitting around 1,500. "[35] These changes to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 will have implications not only for the Leadbeater's possum but to the biodiversity, carbon storage and water catchments of the forests. He emphasised the need to relaunch a breeding program. Photo Ark: Leadbeater’s Possum Photo Ark: Leadbeater’s Possum Small but feisty, the Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) depends on a mix of old and young trees for food and shelter. Leadbeater's Possum population numbers There are 688 known Leadbeater's Possum colonies protected in Victoria's State Forests. In 2013 it was proposed to create the "Great Forest National Park" to protect the mountain ash forest habitat. After carefully considering the advice of the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee and submissions from experts and the community, Minister Hunt decided in April 2015 to uplist the Leadbeater’s Possum to critically endangered. This population estimate is predicted to undergo a 90% reduction by 2025. "[32] The proposed logging is to supply (taxpayer subsidised) pulp to manufacture 'Reflex' copy paper—a product of Australian Paper owned by the Japanese company, Nippon Paper Group. Donate if you can. [12], By the time of the 1939 Black Friday fires, the species was thought to have been extinct. Their findings show that the availability of suitable habitat is critical: forest must be neither too old nor too young, with conservation efforts for Leadbeater's possums involving protection of remaining old-growth stands, and maintenance of younger stands that are allowed to attain hollow-bearing age. Photo Ark is a multiyear effort to document every species living in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. They live in mixed-age wet sclerophyll forest with plenty of Acacia.. The average length of the possum is 32 cm, half of which is its distinctive club shaped tail with bushy tip. The lowland floodplain forest habitat used by Leadbeater’s Possum at Yellingbo covers approximately 181 ha, however less than 20 hectares of this area currently provides suitable habitat conditions (D. Harley 2014, pers. Many of these nest boxes were paid for by a community fundraising campaign. Healesville Sanctuary currently holds a number of possums and is attempting to breed them. [4] It is primitive, relict, and non-gliding, and, as the only species in the petaurid genus Gymnobelideus, represents an ancestral form. [18] They live in small family colonies of up to 12 individuals,[11] including one monogamous breeding pair. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. [citation needed], Previously feral cats had only been considered a peripheral threat to Leadbeater's possums, but recent research has found video evidence of cats preying on possums leaving nesting boxes, and of possum remains in stomach contents of trapped feral cats. A progress report was released in October 2015 confirming 71 new Leadbeater’s Possums colonies. Leadbeater’s Possum is a small marsupial restricted to an area of about 3000 km2 in the Victorian Central Highlands and a lowland swamp forest at Yellingbo. [30][31], In 2012 MyEnvironment challenged VicForests' operations in three planned coupes in the Toolangi forest in the supreme court. This number has now risen to over 600 new colonies. Plant exudates make up 80% of their energy intake, but the protein provided by the arthropods is essential for successful breeding.[16]. However, the availability of suitable habitat is critical: forest must be neither too old nor too young, with conservation efforts for Leadbeater's possum involving protection of remaining old-growth stands, and maintenance of younger stands that are allowed to attain hollow-bearing age. Particularly, the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires destroyed 43% of Leadbeater’s possums’ habitat in the Central Highlands. [13][14][10], In 1961, a colony was discovered near Marysville. Fairy possum is the other name of leadbeater possum. It weighs 120 grams – about the weight of an iPhone. 2005, Hansen et al. [7][8], Leadbeater's possum is thought to have evolved about 20 million years ago. Project Possum has targeted two forest types: montane ash forest (i.e. On 22 April 2015, Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment, announced that the Leadbeater's possum would be listed as a "critically endangered" species under the EPBC Act. Microsatellites were cloned and optimised during this study (Hansen et al. [6] On 2 March 1971, the State of Victoria made the Leadbeater's possum its faunal emblem. The appeal was lost. Leadbeater's possums and their forest habitat have been the subject of the largest longitudinal study of any species in the world—conducted by David Lindenmayer, a professor at the Australian National University, and his research assistants since 1983. [18] All members sleep together in a nest made out of shredded bark in a tree hollow, anywhere from 6 to 30 metres above ground level and roughly in the centre of a territory of 3 hectares, which they defend actively. Solitary Leadbeater's possums have difficulty surviving: when young males disperse at about 15 months of age, they tend either to join another colony as a supernumerary member, or to gather together into bachelor groups while they wait to find a mate. In January 2010, Kasia, at the time the last captive Leadbeater's possum worldwide, died at Toronto Zoo. As we are a not-for-profit organisation, all donations go towards our conservation efforts. Hundreds of peer reviewed scientific papers, journal articles and books have resulted from the years of data collection by the ANU team. [2] They have an average body length of 33 cm (13 inches) with the tail included. The nest boxes are primarily used to assist with ongoing population monitoring and supplement the declining forest habitat. The population has dropped sharply since 1996. The population has dropped sharply since 1996. This particular marsupial resides at the Healesville Sanctuary in Australia. The Leadbeater’s Possum is a priority for Zoos Victoria. It lives in colonies of two to ten possums in the acacia and eucalyptus forests in Australia’s central Victoria. 2010 Kasia died peacefully in her sleep at just over 10 years of age at Metro Zoo, Toronto Canada. The distribution and abundance of Leadbeater's possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri in lowland swamp forest at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve. According to IUCN Red List, there are approximately 2,000 mature Leadbeater’s possums today, 200 of which are found at Yellingbo. [19] In addition, female Leadbeater's possums are more aggressive in nature, often engaging in frequent fights with other females, including their own daughters. DKP Harley , MA Worley and TK Harley 27(1) pp.7 - 15 [3] It is primitive, relict, and non-gliding, and, as the only species in the petaurid genus Gymnobelideus, represents an ancestral form. The Leadbeater’s Possum is a charismatic and iconic Australian possum and the faunal emblem of Victoria. We are applying emergency recovery measures for the last lowland population that now contains fewer than 40 individuals and is at very high risk of extinction. Leadbeater's Possum fact sheet - (PDF) Zoos Victoria's is fighting to save the Lowland population of the Leadbeater's Possum from extinction. Protecting the Leadbeater’s Possum. [10][11] From that time on, the fear that it might be extinct gradually grew into near-certainty after the swamps and wetlands in Australia around Bass River in south-west Gippsland were drained for farming in the early 1900s. [4], The combination of 40-year-old regrowth (for food) and large dead trees left still standing after the fires (for shelter and nesting) allowed the Leadbeater's possum population to expand to an estimated peak of about 7500 in the early 1980s. [25] Author Peter Preuss stated that the possum's population faltered in 1997 with current habitat (limited to a 50-square-kilometre area) under threat from logging. The then minister for the environment, Tony Burke, agreed with the nomination and forwarded the application to the scientific committee of the EPBC Act requesting urgent consideration. The Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group and has provided recommendations to the Victorian Government on ways to support the recovery of the Leadbeater’s Possum while maintaining a sustainable timber industry. Discover more about local conservation events and join the growing number of wild activists taking action for local wildlife. What is a Leadbeater’s Possum? Maggie Beer on using food to fight Alzheimer's. It is listed as Critically Endangered in The Action Plan for Australian Mammals (Woinarski et al., 2014, CSIRO). Young, newly independent Leadbeater's possums are very vulnerable to owls. It is found in Australia. Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum (FLBP) are a group of volunteers who came together on National Threatened Species Day 7th September 2004 to give a voice to these elusive forest animals. At the time she was the last captive Leadbeater’s Possum … As a primary predator of tree-dwelling insects, the possum limits the insect influence in the ecosystem (Smith, 1995). The animal’s vulnerability to fire makes climate change a severe danger. As a result, Leadbeater’s possum is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) species on the IUCN Red List. Sept. 14, 2017 - This critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum is the 7,000th species to have its portrait taken by Joel Sartore as part of National Geographic’s Photo Ark project. Due to the constant attacks, young females are forced to leave much earlier than their male brothers, which results in the extremely high male to female ratio of 3:1.[19]. In Victoria, Leadbeater's Possum is listed as a threatened taxon on Schedule 2 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act1988. First found in Gippsland, Leadbeater’s Possum is now restricted to Mountain Ash or sub alpine woodland in Victoria’s Central Highlands. within the range of Leadbeater’s Possum, the majority of which is ash forest (96%), with only 4% Snow Gum woodland. Leadbeater’s Possum and its primary forest habitat, the Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, are both Critically Endangered. The case was lost by MyEnvironment due to inconsistencies in the wording of the Leadbeater's Possum Action Statement (10 years out of date) and the forestry prescriptions adhered to by VicForests. It is now considered that cats may be a more significant threat to possum populations, particularly in areas already disturbed by logging or bushfires. Number left in the wild: Fewer than 40 of the Lowland population. Leadbeaters Possums Victoria's Magical Little Emblem - Leadbeaters Possums The Leadbeater's Possum is Victoria's State Faunal emblem. Federally, Leadbeater’s Possum is listed under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 as endangered. A colony usually consists of a single breeding pair and young or adult offspring that have not It is an endangered species which is only found in Victoria. Healesville Sanctuary have set up special enclosures with infrared cameras to monitor the possum’s behaviour and are Sadly, almost half of the possum’s ideal habitat—the old-growth m… The population has dropped sharply since 1996. [12], David Lindenmayer (Australian National University) has argued that the need for nest boxes indicates that logging practices are not ecologically sustainable for conserving hollow-dependent species like the Leadbeater's possum. As of May 2015,[update] they are housed as pairs in large enclosures off display, but are yet to breed. Population Trend: Decreasing. The Leadbeater possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) is one of the rarest subspecies. Current Species Status: Endangered (Schedule 1, Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals 1994, ANZECC 1991, CNR 1995). Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) is a critically endangered possum largely restricted to small pockets of alpine ash, mountain ash, and snow gum forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, north-east of Melbourne. In 2013, the independent Leadbeater's Possum Advisory Group made recommendations to support the recovery of the possum… This Fact Sheet provides key information on Leadbeater’s Possum and the threats to its habitat. Denning groups of Leadbeater’s Possum (often referred to as ‘colonies’) typically consists of two or three individuals (Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group 2014), although larger colonies have been recorded in the past (up to 12 individuals). Its distribution and numbers have varied over time, with episodic severe declines associated with extensive wildfire, notably in 1939 and 2009. 6mins 19secs Leadbeater's Possum population crashes by two thirds in past 20 years: report 12mins 10secs Maggie Beer on using food to fight Alzheimer's . [15] Extensive searches since then have found the existing population in the highlands. … Nest boxes located in the sub-alpine woodland tend to have a high uptake, while those located in montane ash forest have very limited uptake. 2009). [23], As the species is endangered and occupies a restricted range,[24] logging continues to pose a critical threat to the Leadbeater's possum. Join Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum and volunteer. [43][failed verification] There are no plans to release the remaining two animals despite a further two colonies of Leadbeater's possums having recently been located at Lake Mountain in remnant gully vegetation. Leadbeater’s Possums use their club-shaped tails to carry bark to build their nests. From its peak in the 1980s, biologists expected the Leadbeater’s possum population to further decline rapidly, by as much as 90%, due to a habitat bottleneck. Leadbeater's Possum confirmed colonies within Central Highlands RFA The Leadbeater's Possum Advisory Group (LBPAG) established in 2013, was tasked with developing recommendations (actions) to support the recovery of Leadbeater's Possum (LBP) while maintaining a sustainable timber industry (LBPAG Recommendations Report, January 2014). Leadbeater’s Possums have very specific habitat requirements to survive and flourish. Mount Baw Baw, Lake Mountain, and Mount Bullfight). Leadbeater's Possum inhabits dead and decaying trees, many of which are filled with abundant insect populations. [16] From its peak in the 1980s, the Leadbeater's possum population was expected to further decline rapidly, by as much as 90%,[2] due to a habitat bottleneck. 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2020 leadbeater's possum population