Rare Pygmy Possums Just Got Rediscovered After Fears That Bushfires Wiped Them Out

Even though the year 2020 has been pretty much consistently disastrous, the world still managed to surprise us with some good stuff, with most of it being discoveries or rediscoveries of cute animal species thought to be extinct. For instance, as you may recall, the  Somali elephant shrew has been rediscovered  in Africa after 50 years of obscurity, and  the greater glider has been identified as 3 different species  after not being recognized as separate species for 228 years.

Recently, another one of these discoveries was announced after the Aussie conservation group  Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife  spotted a little pygmy possum that hadn’t been seen since the Australian bushfires in 2019-2020.

Approximately a year ago, Australian bushfires tragically destroyed almost half of Kangaroo Island

For almost a year, it was believed that these delicate creatures were wiped out since their habitat was radically destroyed in bushfires that burnt almost half of Kangaroo Island. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

“The status of the little pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus) was unknown pre-2020 bushfires on #kangarooisland. With most of its habitat severely burnt, we are happy to have detected the species for the first time since the fires in the largest unburnt patch,” the fauna ecologist  Pat Hodgens wrote in a Twitter  post announcing the rediscovery.

Many animal species were thought to be wiped out, including the adorable pygmy possum

Since these adorable pygmy possums are incredibly small and were pretty rare to begin with, it was generally quite difficult to look for them. “There’s only really been 113 formal records of the species [ever on Kangaroo Island]. So certainly not very common and, obviously, the bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them,” Pat Hodgens told  ABC .

Fortunately, the tiny creature was recently rediscovered by an Aussie conservation group

Turns out, the animal was rediscovered as a part of larger investigations aimed to find out which species are still around after the disastrous bushfires. During these investigations, more than 20 different wildlife species have already been rediscovered, including the tammar wallaby and southern brown bandicoot.

During the investigations on the island, more than 20 species have been rediscovered, including the southern brown bandicoot

“[We’ll] do everything we can to protect them to ensure that they hang around during this pretty critical time,” Pat Hodgens told ABC. “It’s very important now because it is kind of like the last refuge for a lot of these species that really rely on very old long, unburned vegetation.”

Here’s what people had to say about the discovery