Stoney, the only captive-bred mahogany glider
returned successfully to the wild.
Photo © Daryl Dickson
The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland is appalled that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recovery plan for the endangered mahogany glider (Petaurus gracilis) that was written in 2000 and updated in 2007 has not been acted upon. The lack of action is putting this glider species – numbering fewer than 1500 individuals in a small area of Far North Queensland – at risk of extinction.
The mahogany glider has been categorised as 'Critical' under Back on Track, the EPA's at-risk species prioritisation program.
'Back on Track appears to be ensuring that threatened species like the mahogany glider are on track to become extinct,' said Simon Baltais, President of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
Wildlife Queensland is preparing to write to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to ask the organisation to take action on behalf of the mahogany glider.
'Our State authority has not been able to act adequately,' said Simon Baltais. 'We will not get another chance to rediscover the mahogany glider.'
The IUCN recently categorised the mahogany glider as 'Endangered and in decline' in its 'Red List' global summary of endangered wildlife.
Daryl Dickson, mahogany glider recovery expert and WPSQ Tully Branch member, has written to the Sustainability Minister, Andrew McNamara, to voice her extreme concern at the plight of the species and to question the value of actions that are supposed to support the mahogany glider.
'To create the illusion of working towards conservation and recovery while quietly watching a species slide towards extinction is unconscionable,' said Daryl, who was responsible for the only successful release so far of a captive-bred mahogany glider.
Daryl Dickson has immediate concerns about the welfare of mahogany gliders that are about to be released into the wild by EPA.
In her letter to Minister McNamara, she criticised the proposed release of two pairs of captive-bred mahogany gliders without proper preparation into an area that will expose them to known dangers such as main roads, barbed wire and predators.
'We have an ethical obligation to ensure that the projects we undertake…are beneficial for the species…this project does not meet those criteria,' she says.
On 6 December 1989 Dr Steve van Dyck of Queensland Museum found the first live specimen of the mahogany glider for 100 years. Previously the species was only known from some skins in the Museum's store. After 'Gracie' the glider was found at Barratts Lagoon, south east of Tully, a number of the species were identified but only in a small area between Tully and Ingham. Approximately 80% of their habitat has been cleared for agriculture, forestry and residential development.
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