A white possum native to the mountainous regions of Queensland, Australia is feared extinct. Unfortunately global warming is considered to be the most probable cause. This conclusion comes after repeated efforts by scientists to find a single white possum on their intensive expeditions across different parts of its natural habitat.
White possums, also known as lemuroid ringtails, are found only above 3000 feet in the trees in Daintree forests and are very sensitive to temperature changes. These small creatures cannot maintain their body temperatures under intense heat. According to Professor Williams, director of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University, a short span of 4-5 hours of high temperature in enough to affect the white possum.
As a result of global warming, the temperature of the area has risen by 0.8 C; an insignificant change to the common man but enough to be a cause for the extinction of an entire species of white possums.
Prior to 2005, the white possum would be seen every 45 minutes but this year several searches have ended up without a single sighting. Scientists are going to make one last effort to sight the white possum early next year.
Reef and Rainforest Research Centre chief executive Sheridan Morris said, “It is equally as shocking as losing an iconic marine species like a whale or the dugong.”
Many insects and species of frogs have succumbed to changes in temperatures and have become extinct but the white possum, dubbed “Dodo of the Daintree” will be the first mammal to be so drastically effected by climate change.
Other possible reasons for the extinction of the cute furry possum are argued to be deforestation or habitat fragmentation. But scientists maintain their stance that global warming is the culprit.
It still has to be proved beyond a doubt that the white possum is extinct, and that too, as a result of global warming. But let’s hope this is a wakeup call to all of mankind. If the steady rise in temperatures hasn’t claimed its first victim yet, scientists fear it soon will. Many species around the world are dependent on temperatures and an increase in temperature even by one or two degrees in enough to wipe out entire species of insects and mammals. Let’s hope we can stabilize the temperatures before it’s too late.