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Range and abundance
The Artesian Range is at the heart of the limited range for the Wyulda, which is restricted to high rainfall areas along a small coastal section of the northwest Kimberley region between Yampi Sound and Kalumburu. A small isolated population has recently been rediscovered in a few rugged gorges in the eastern Kimberley.
An adult Wyulda is 31 – 39 cm in body-length, has a 30 cm long tail and weighs between 1.3 and 2 kg. The possum has fur of pale grey, tipped with black, on the upper-side of its body, a rufous tinge to the base of its tail and is creamy white below. The end 4/5ths of the tail is naked and covered with small blackish scales.
Wyulda are solitary nocturnal foragers that inhabit very rocky, rugged sandstone country. During the day, Wyulda den in deep crevices in rock piles and emerge at night to forage in the trees for their diet of fruit, nuts, seeds and insects. AWC is conducting the first ever detailed research on this little known species to improve understanding of its ecology and response to threats.
There are concerns that altered fire regimes – especially an increase in extensive hot wildfire in the late dry season – may be a threat to the survival of Wyulda. Intense late-season wildfires kill fruit-bearing trees and may be more likely to burn into the damp rainforest vegetation in which the Wyulda forages, thereby degrading food sources. The degree to which the possum may be at risk from predation by feral cats is unknown.
What is AWC doing?
AWC protects an important population in the Artesian Range, with on-ground management (fire management and feral animal control) dedicated towards the conservation of species such as the Wyulda. We are the only organisation in Australia to be implementing a dedicated monitoring program for Wyulda. AWC field ecologists are conducting the only detailed research ever undertaken on the survival requirements of the Wyulda. This research is happening in collaboration with the University of Tasmania.