When primary school students in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains heard about the devastation caused by the 2019–2020 bushfire season to the endangered mountain pygmy possum, they put their chef hats on and quickly started cooking up a storm to help.
- Most of the mountain pygmy possums’ food supply was destroyed in the 2019-2020 bushfires
- School kids in the NSW Snowy Mountains are baking biscuits to aide their recovery
- Hand-baked ‘bogong biscuits’, made from mealworms, macadamias and minerals, imitate nutrients the animals would get from bogong moths
These tiny possums live in just three isolated spots in sub-alpine and alpine regions of Victoria and New South Wales.
Discovery Coordinator for Kosciuszko National Park, Dan Nicholls, said last year’s Dunns Road fire tore through the landscape, destroying their habitat and food sources.
“Basically, most of that surrounding vegetation around those boulder fields was destroyed,” Mr Nicholls said.
From bogong moths to ‘bogong biscuits’
Mountain pygmy possums feed predominately on insects, seeds, bogong moths and fruit from the mountain plum pine, which was mostly wiped out during the fires.
A supplementary feeding program was set up to help the species recover last year, with eight primary schools across the Snowy Monaro now on board to help bake special “bogong biscuits”.
Berridale Public School teacher Alison Fox said she is proud to see her students lend a hand to the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“They were very excited to be able to do something to have an impact,” Ms Fox said.
“The whole school was involved.”
Kids as young as five years old participated in the mixing and baking of the biscuits, with 150 bags then distributed across feeding stations in Kosciusko National Park.
Twelve-year-old Josie Holfter, from Berridale Public School, loved the experience but said the biscuits definitely were not for human consumption.
“I really liked it because it was very interesting and fun and we got to work as a team, which I really liked,” Josie said.
The bogong biscuits are made from macadamia nuts, mealworms, oils, minerals and water and contain the same energy content as the bogong moth, which have been declining in the region.
A collaborative effort
The students spent several days making the biscuits and learning about the endangered animal with their teachers and National Park rangers.
Mr Nicholls said it is great to see National Parks collaborating with schools in the region and to give students an opportunity to learn about local habitats in an interactive and fun environment.
“But in most cases, most of the mix made it into the bickies and into the possums’ tummies.”
Mountain pygmy possum expert and researcher, Linda Broome said it is important to teach the students about the ongoing threats to the species survival, including the dangers of feral animals.
“The possums are nocturnal and almost never seen in the wild, but they still need our help,” Dr Broome said.
“But it is encouraging to see the overwhelming support from local schools.”