Meet the mahogany glider – one of our planet’s rarest creatures. They only occur in a small area of far north Queensland, and they’re very hard to find in the wild. The glider is a nocturnal, tree-dwelling marsupial, closely related to the sugar glider. the squirrel glider and the yellow-bellied glider. The mahogany was first described in the 1880s but wasn’t seen again for almost 100 years. When they were found again in 1989, scientists realised they weren’t extinct – but they are a critically endangered species.
Mahogany Gliders are restricted to the coastal southern wet tropics region of far north Queensland, in an area of coastal lowland forest between Ingham and Tully, mostly in the coastal foothills of the Paluma, Seaview and Cardwell Ranges.There’s plenty of tucker here, year round: pollen, sap and nectar being mahogany glider favourites. But their habitat is getting smaller, and it’s been hit by two major cyclones in six years. No-one’s sure how many mahogany gliders are left in the wild, but the number is probably below what scientists estimate is needed to ensure the survival of the species.
And there’s a mahogany glider breeding program underway at zoos and wildlife centres around Queensland to ensure survivors who can be released into the wild to boost numbers in the future. The Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas, north of Cairns, has a lead role in this program, and while the gliders aren’t on public display, there’s plenty of other local wildlife to see.
Take an audio tour of the Wildlife Habitat with our wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen & Habitat assistant manager Clare Anderson.
Clare Anderson is the assistant manager of The Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas.