A visiting Victorian Government minister got a close-up look at a project to protect one of our region’s most delightful and interesting animals recently.
During a visit to Shepparton, Minister for Energy and Environment Lily D’Ambrosio was introduced to the squirrel glider nest box monitoring and awareness program.
Although she didn’t get to see a live specimen (the nocturnal creatures are shy), she was shown their habitat in natural bushland near the Australian Botanic Gardens Shepparton and was given information about what people are doing to raise awareness of the tiny creatures.
Program co-ordinator Wendy D’Amore runs monthly spotlighting tours of the bush near the Goulburn River where the gliders can often be seen, flitting from one tree to another.
The marsupial squirrel glider is a threatened species while the sugar glider is not under the same listing.
They use a membrane stretched between their ankles to glide between trees when foraging for food which often includes flowers, pollen and nectar, as well as insects and eggs.
‘‘They are a beautiful animal; so agile and they behave like little aerial acrobats,’’ Ms D’Amore said.
‘‘It’s a great experience to see them gliding.’’
Ms D’Ambrosio was told of the importance of old trees and protecting the habitat, as well as the danger of predation from cats.
She saw the nest boxes which have been provided in gum trees and was told about how the recent funding from the Victorian threatened species protection initiative had enabled the purchase of two wildlife monitoring cameras as well as the printing of posters and pamphlets on the gliders.
The Minister was accompanied by Environment Department Acting Regional Director Sue Berwick.
‘‘The Minister was pleased with the project and delighted to see the gardens which included the rise and natural bushland area where nest boxes were installed,’’ Ms D’Amore said.
■Anyone wanting to know more about the project or the Shepparton Mooroopna Urban Landcare Group can phone Wendy D’Amore on 0407 331 376 or the Goulburn Murray Landcare Network on 5821 3530.
■Pamphlets on the gliders are available from the City of Greater Shepparton office.