A solitary, tree-dwelling marsupial with big furry ears, large round eyes and a feather boa-like tail that lives in the eucalypt forests of eastern Australia, the greater glider is often described as a clumsy flying possum. Only cuter. "They're like living Muppets," Australian National University (ANU) ecologist Dr Kara Youngentob told me via Zoom. "Most people are more familiar with sugar gliders [a small, sweet-toothed glider species heavily exploited in the illicit international pet trade] – think of the greater glider as their bigger, lazier, fluffier cousin."
Previously thought to range from the steamy tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland down to the cool, wet forests of Victoria's Central Highlands, a territory spanning some 3,000km, the greater glider was recently proven to be three distinct species, with the nocturnal marsupials getting smaller the further north they live.
Yet according to long-term surveys conducted by ANU Professor David Lindenmayer, Australia's foremost greater glider expert, southern populations had already plummeted by 80% in some areas before the bushfires. This loss is largely attributed to logging, which has wiped out vast swaths of hollow-bearing trees that greater gliders rely on.