On an extinct volcano in rural New South Wales, there exists a secret world.
As the rain beats down on the gum trees and a cool mist surrounds the top of Mount Kaputar, hundreds of fluorescent pink slugs emerge from under wet leaves to feed on snails and moss.
But this magical place and it’s brightly coloured inhabitants are under threat from global warming.
As temperatures on the mountain rise, the damp conditions that allow the slugs (Triboniophorus graeffei) to survive are disappearing.
Faced with losing one of unique creatures, the New South Wales Scientific Committee is pushing for the slug to be listed as Australia’s first endangered land snail. Their submission also calls for the listing of plants, fungi and fauna.
“These organisms are quite special because some of them are endemic to this community so they occur nowhere else in the world and with no other combination of species in the world,” the committee’s deputy chair Dr. Andrea Wilson told the ABC.
The slugs can be traced back to Gondwana, the name given to two continents that formed part of the Pangaea around 180 million years ago, and some of its relatives are now found in New Zealand.
Not much is known about the pink slug, but the committee hopes its listing as endangered might change that.
“They’re perched up the top of Mount Kaputar in the National Park there and once species are listed and once communities have that attention to them it does, sometimes, mean that more information is found out about them,” says Dr Wilson.
[Images: Michael Murphy, NPWS]