Australian Museum scientist, Dr Stephen Jackson, leads the publication of the recovery plan for the endangered mahogany glider.

The mahogany glider (Petaurus gracilis) is one of Australia’s most endangered mammals. This beautiful gliding possum is approximately 60 cm in length and can make glides of up to 60 m through the forest canopy in the wet sclerophyll woodlands of North Queensland. During the day they rest within tree hollows in the forest canopy. At night they feed upon a variety of food items including numerous types of insects, nectar and pollen from trees such as eucalypts and melaleucas, and acacia arils and sap.

This species was first described in 1883, but not formally recorded for 103 years, so in the interim was considered extinct. Since its rediscovery in 1989, it has shown to have a naturally limited distribution that is only 120 km north to south and 40 km east to west in the region near Tully and Ingham.

Mahogany glider
Mahogany glider. Image: Lachlan Gilding
© Lachlan Gilding

Throughout its distribution, the mahogany glider faces various threats to its survival. These include habitat loss and fragmentation, rainforest expansion because of reduced fire regimes (as they do not live in rainforest), weed invasion, and an increasing number of extreme climatic events such as cyclones. In terms of conservation management, the glider faces multiple risks to their naturally small population through inappropriate grazing management and barriers to obtaining food and shelter such as roads, railway lines, power easements and barbed wire fences that entangle them.

As a result of its endangered status there has been a great need to update the ‘National Recovery Plan for the Mahogany Glider’ that was last published in 2006. Dr Stephen Jackson of the Australian Museum led the development of a new edition of the recovery plan that was approved by the Federal Minister for the Environment in February 2022.

Dr Jackson has published over 20 studies on various aspects of the ecology, behaviour and conservation of the mahogany glider since 1994, so was in a great position to provide expert advice on this species.

The National Recovery Plan for the Mahogany Glider provides a synthesis of the threats facing this species and identifies strategic management actions required to help conserve this extraordinary gliding mammal into the future. Conservation measures required include securing habitat critical to the glider, developing an effective monitoring program, and increasing community awareness amongst landholders.

The hope is that these recommendations will inform future conservation management in Queensland, so that these populations can grow and thrive in future. View the new edition of the plan here:

Dr Stephen Jackson, Associate Director, Collection Enhancement Project, Australian Museum.

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