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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Flora & Fauna of Australia’s Atherton Tablelands


Nat Hab’s Final Australia Safari presents a contemplative escape into lands that maintain a few of Earth’s most delicate ecosystems, together with the Atherton Tablelands, a tropical, lush island plateau that defines Tropical North Queensland. This plateau is teeming with life throughout rainforests, savannas, lakes and waterfalls. The ensuing wildlife are remarkably distinct, a results of 1000’s of years of evolution and Indigenous cultivation.

Flora of Atherton Tablelands

Big Pink Cedar Tree

Pink cedar has a novel historical past in Atherton Tableland. As one of many largest cedar timber within the Southern Hemisphere, this tree as soon as coated the Mabi forest and far of the Atherton Tablelands. The Mabi forest as soon as coated the plateau and gained its identify from the unique inhabitants, mabi being a Ngadjon phrase for the Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo. A number of the timber in Mabi, just like the pink cedar tree, can lose their leaves, which is unusual in tropical rainforests. The Mabi forest is critically endangered, and solely 4.5% of its former vary exists. 

giant red cedar tree forest

Curtain Fig Tree 

Inside Curtain Fig Nationwide Park in Yungaburra, you’ll be encapsulated in a world dominated by a 500-year-old singular strangler fig that helps its personal complicated ecosystem. This fig tree has in depth roots that descend 46 ft from the sky to the forest flooring, making a curtain throughout all the park. An elevated boardwalk will give a low-impact solution to expertise this tree from all angles. The tree is 165 ft tall and has a trunk circumference of 128 ft, making it one of many largest timber in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. The park protects a small space of the endangered Mabi forest. 

Curtain Fig Tree National Park Yungaburra Queensland Australia

Rose Gum 

Rose gum (Eucalyptus grandis) is a deciduous tree native to the east coast of Australia. One other frequent identify for this species is flooded gum, which may attain heights of 180 ft! Like all eucalyptus timber, rose gum bears excellent flowers that await pollination from foraging bugs, primarily honeybees. 

flowering eucalyptus grandis rose gum tree flooded gum Australia

Fauna of Atherton Tablelands

Herbert River Ringtail Possum 

The Herbert River possum (Pseudochirulus herbertensis) is barely discovered alongside the Herbert River on the Western Tablelands. Native to the island, this ringtail possum is arboreal, dwelling largely within the timber.

> Learn: Be taught extra about Australia’s possums

Herbert River Ringtail (Pseudochirulus herbertensis) possum

Leaf-tailed Gecko

Massive marble eyes and broad leaf-shaped tails make the leaf-tailed gecko stand out in its native habitat. These carnivores can nearly fully obscure themselves within the forest, mixing in with dry leaves or tree bark. They will flatten their our bodies and conceal from predators in branches, tree trunks, and leaf litter. 

Australian leaf-tailed gecko

Australian leaf-tailed gecko © Matt Cornish

Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders are nocturnal possums with grey fur and white underbellies that nest in tree hollows in teams of as much as ten. Feminine sugar gliders have a excessive charge of birthing twins, and the joeys can stick with each mother and father till they’re 10 months outdated. They’re one of many largest marsupials that may enter a state of torpor, or momentary hibernation.

After they aren’t huddled collectively, you may catch them gliding throughout the tropical rainforest, utilizing their built-in “wings” to leap from one tree to a different, generally gliding the space of half a soccer subject! Possums have a skinny flap of pores and skin that connects their back and front legs, and their bushy tails assist stabilize and information them by way of the air. 

Sugar glider with her baby isolated on black (Petaurus breviceps)

They could remind you of flying squirrels or flying lemurs, however they’re extra intently associated to different marsupials just like the kangaroo or koalas. The species gained its frequent identify resulting from its weight-reduction plan and robust desire for nectar, pollen, tree gum, and the sap of timber like eucalyptus. In 2021, it was found that there are literally three distinct species as a substitute of only one! Enjoyable reality: The Atherton Tablelands are residence to the best concentrations of possums and gliders in Australia and the world. 

Sugar glider in flight flying nocturnal night

Mainland Platypus

The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal that stands out within the animal kingdom as considered one of solely two mammals on this planet that may lay eggs. It’s endemic to Australia and is principally discovered within the freshwater methods in tropical rainforest lowlands and all through the Atherton Tablelands. The platypus has a broad, flat tail and physique coated in dense, waterproof fur.

When not foraging by way of streams and cobbles, the platypus rests in a burrow on the financial institution of a river, creek or pond. It feeds at evening, totally on aquatic invertebrates and bug larvae, utilizing its distinct invoice to sift by way of the substrate for all times. Shrimps, waterbugs and different free-swimming organisms are sometimes on the menu. Males have a venom gland of their higher leg that’s related to a attractive spur on their ankles, making the platypus one of many few venomous mammals.

Mainland Platypus

Australian Tree Kangaroos 

Australia has two native species of tree kangaroos, the Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) and the Bennett’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus bennettianus). Each species are extremely tailored for tree dwelling with lengthy muscled forearms and shorter hindlimbs. The Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos have reddish-gray fur, lengthy bushy tails and smooth pads on their ft that assist them grip the forest timber as they climb. The Bennett’s tree kangaroos have gray-brown fur and are usually a bit bigger. They are discovered in tropical rainforests within the Atherton Tablelands.

Lumholtz-s Tree Kangaroo

Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi), photographed by Nat Hab Expedition Chief © Matt Cornish

Ulysses Butterflies

Papilio ulysses, generally generally known as the Ulysses butterfly or Blue Emperor, is a big swallowtail butterfly native to Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Wingspans can attain as much as 5.5 inches, however sizes fluctuate by subspecies. In Queensland, their wingspan is about 4 inches. Their wings stand out with an iridescent, electrical blue colour and a heat blackish-brown underside that helps them camouflage after they perch. 

Ulysses butterfly electric blue Australia

Musky Rat-Kangaroo 

One of many extra frequent species within the Atherton Tablelands is the musky rat kangaroo (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus). It’s the world’s smallest kangaroo species, weighing lower than 1.1 kilos! This species is taken into account to be very primitive, having advanced over 20 million years in the past. It’s extra much like a possum than a kangaroo, because it commonly offers beginning to twins and hops across the forest flooring on all fours. 

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Australia

Boyd’s Forest Dragon

The Boyd’s forest dragon is just not endemic to the Atherton Tablelands, however you’ll discover a respectable inhabitants of this lizard on the island. Generally known as a dwelling dinosaur, this reptile has a big wedge-shaped head and plates on its cheeks, spines, head, again and chin. Not like different lizards, it regulates its physique temperature to match the encompassing vegetation, serving to it keep away from prey. 

Boyd’s Forest Dragon

Prepared to fulfill them for your self? See these and myriad different crops and animals of the Atherton Tablelands on our Final Australia Safari!

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