On Friday 7 and Saturday 8 September, local ranger Meaghan Raymond will be on hand at Falls Creek Cross Country Centre to discuss what Parks Victoria is doing to help the mountain pygmy-possum, as well as things you can do to help endangered species survive. Falls Creek Cross Country is also offering free ski hire on the day for anyone who wants to get out and explore the High Plains. September 7 is National Threatened Species Day in Australia. The date commemorates the death of the last known Tasmanian tiger, which died dismally at the Hobart Zoo 82 years ago this year. Of all the threatened species in this country, one lives very close to home in northeast Victoria. The mountain pygmy-possum is a small, ground-dwelling native that lives amongst the alpine and sub-alpine boulderfields and rocky scree in southeastern Australia. They are the only Australian marsupial that hibernates for long periods during the winter months under a blanket of snow. What is remarkable about the mountain pygmy-possum is how we came to know of them In 1896 Scottish South African doctor and palaeontologist Robert Broom was working in Australia, when he discovered the species. Not alive, however, but in a fossil. It was thus assumed that the little pygmy was long extinct. But that wasn't quite true!!! A live, unfossilised version was discovered in a ski lodge at Mount Hotham in 1966. With only one verified living animal, the 1967 Guinness Book of Records recorded the mountain pygmy possum as the rarest animal on earth. Later surveys discovered more colonies of the little possum, and today there are known populations in the Alpine National Park (beyond the Pretty Valley Pondage), Mount Buller, Mt Higginbotham (Hotham Heights), and Kosciusko National Park. Once the snow melts the possums come out of hibernation to feast on Bogong Moths (their staple diet) which migrate up to the mountains to avoid the heat in the valleys. Meanwhile they have to compete with antechinus and rodents for other food, all while being hunted themselves by cats and foxes. In 2010 a national recovery plan was drafted to ensure the mountain pygmy-possums survive and have a chance to evolve in the wild, and Healesville Sanctuary launched a captive breeding program for the possum in Victoria. Today, conservationists in Victoria and New South Wales are working with ski resorts to protect the tiny possum. Efforts involve establishing movement corridors to link populations, such as the ‘tunnel of love’ at Mount Hotham that links male and female possums separated by the Great Alpine Road. Rehabilitating habitats and controlling feral cat and fox populations are also important. Individuals are encouraged to minimise their impact when visiting national parks and not take cats or dogs to the snowfields.