Black Saturday and The Possum Nesting Box
Image: Nest Box - Leadbeater's Possum, Lake Mountain Plateau, Black Saturday Bushfires, February 2009.
Curation notes by: Liza Dale-Hallett, Senior Curator Sustainable Futures, Museums Victoria, Rebecca Carland, Senior Curator, History of Collections & Scientific Art, Museums Victoria and Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.Contributors
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Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, was the greatest bushfire disaster in Australia's recorded history.
This burnt and blackened possum nesting box was recovered from the Lake Mountain plateau on the Echo Flat ski trail near Marysville, Victoria, after the Black Saturday fires swept through.
It had been part of a conservation program to monitor the numbers of the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum. Counting the nests in the boxes gave conservation officers an idea of how many possums lived nearby in the wild.
After the fires the boxes became not just tools for surveying numbers, they formed part of the first line of defence in the possum’s survival.
The 2009 Victorian bushfires began in late January and culminated on Black Saturday. In over 100 locations across Victoria 400 fires were recorded. Sadly, 173 people were killed and 414 injured. Over 3,400 properties were destroyed or damaged. Over 10,000 km of fences were burnt and more than 11,000 farm animals were killed or injured. Nearly 430,000 hectares of land were razed, and more than 1 million native animals perished. In terms of Victoria's public lands, over 287,000 hectares were burnt, including almost 100,000 hectares of national and state parks and reserves, and nearly 170,000 hectares of state forests and reserves. The most severely affected parks were Kinglake National Park, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Bunyip State Park, Cathedral Range State Park, and Yarra Ranges National Park.
Curation notes by: Liza Dale-Hallett, Senior Curator Sustainable Futures, Museums Victoria, Rebecca Carland, Senior Curator, History of Collections & Scientific Art, Museums Victoria and Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.