A wildlife specialist says a critically endangered tiny marsupial only found on South Australia's Kangaroo Island could soon become extinct if urgent steps are not taken to protect it.
The Kangaroo Island dunnart forages for insects in leaf litter and dense shrubs and grows to the size of a mouse.
Little is known about the rare species, which has proven particularly vulnerable to bushfires and land clearance, with the total population estimated at only a few hundred.
University of Sydney senior lecturer in wildlife management Mathew Crowther says more research is needed to get a better idea of the animal's population distribution and possible fire control strategies.
He says creating reserve populations through captive breeding needs to be considered.
"There's not been many caught very recently or many sighted very recently so we could be looking at that," he said.
"Island species seem to be particularly susceptible because of their restricted distribution but if nothing is done, or even if something is done and it doesn't quite work out, we could be looking at extinction of this species in the near future.
"There's only two sort of sites to the park at the end of the island where it's found so when you've got a very small population and very restricted distribution it doesn't take much for one event - such as a bushfire - to wipe the entire population out." Photo.