Possum a New Zealand Nightmare

The Possum – a small leaf eating marsupial from Australia – is devastating the New Zealand environment.

Produced by NHNZ

From the very top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, New Zealand is on the verge of disaster – and a small arboreal marsupial from Australia is to blame – the possum.

Introduced in the 1830’s to provide the basis for a fur industry, the possum found the New Zealand forests a paradise. More used to coarse Australian gum leaves, the foliage in New Zealand offered an endless variety of tasty and nutritious food. Working their way down a list of preferred groups the possums have gradually removed species after species from the forest. Native birds have been out competed for food, whole forest canopies are disappearing – a total irreversible change is happening.

If that wasn’t enough, the possum is the main reservoir for bovine TB. Cattle and deer all over the country are being infected at an increasing rate. Apart from the major inconvenience for farmers the threat of a ban on overseas meat exports hangs over the industry. Research being carried out at the moment has only shown up how little is known about the disease in possums and difficulties faced in controlling it.

Current control methods can only offer short term relief. Aerial dropping of 1080 poison in very inaccessible areas and the use of the growing pool of unemployed trappers – redundant from the collapse of the fur industry – are very expensive, too much to consider for the whole country, crippling even for those areas of high conservation and agricultural value.

There seems to be no solution – New Zealand cannot look for help overseas because nowhere else has the nightmare of the possum.

Episodes From This Series

Wanted Alive

26 minutes / 1992

Colony Z

24 minutes / 1986

The Black Stilt – A Bird Surrounded by Change

48 minutes / 1984

The Black Robin – The Chatham Island Story

48 minutes / 1990

Lost World of the Poor Knights

48 minutes / 1992

Castles of the Underworld

46 minutes / 1992

Wild Horse, Wild Country

51 minutes / 1995

City Under the Sea

47 minutes / 1992

Bandits of the Beech Forest

52 minutes / 1996

Battle for Breaksea

26 minutes / 1989

Snares Gift from the Sea

24 minutes / 1984

Up With the Birds

24 minutes / 1982

Same Time Same Place

24 monutes / 1982

Swan Lake

24 minutes / 1985

Kakapo – Night Parrot

24 minutes / 1982

Sealion summer

24 minutes / 1982

Possum a New Zealand Nightmare

26 minutes / 1990


23 minutes / 1990


26 minutes / 1989

Invaders in Paradise

51 minutes / 1999

The Mangroves

24 minutes / 1984

Islands of strange noises

30 minutes / 1980

Island Eaten by Rats

24 minutes / 1984

Tale of the Crayfish

48 minutes / 1987

Land of the Kiwi

48 minutes / 1987

Gull City

23 minutes / 1990