The Australian mountain pygmy possum population on Mt Buller has suffered one of the most drastic declines in numbers and genetic diversity ever documented for a mammal. Over the last two years, cesar have been leading a research team aiming to genetically rescue this highly unique population.
Following on from last years translocation, in September 2011 six new males were translocated from Mt Higginbotham in Victoria, to the Mt Buller population to continue the genetic rescue. The promising results that were achieved from last years translocation (read about those results here) indicated that the strategy adopted could be successful, but it was highlighted that a more optimal time for the translocation was mid-September just prior to the start of the breeding season. This year, cesar moved the males in two separate translocations, 4 in mid-September, and a further 2 at the end of September.
The males were monitored after successful translocation using radio collars and radio tracking, with all the translocated males surviving for the critical 6 week period during breeding.
Annual monitoring of the Mt Buller population of mountain pygmy possums took place at the end of October 2011 and extremely promising results were found with the highest number of possums found in over a decade and a significant increase in female pouch young. Both could be indicating the success of the wild translocations and genetic rescue of this highly unique population of mountain pygmy possums.
The cesar team will be back at Mt Buller in late January to take hair samples from juveniles for DNA analysis and determine the breeding success of the translocated males.