Possum: Perfect Protection for Glasses and Hi-end Electronics
Auckland: New Zealand
New Zealand is the only country in the world with 'permission' from the World Wildlife Fund to harvest a fur-bearing animal and tap into a rich source of natural anti-static fibers.
As one of the few animals that have a hollow-stemmed fiber, the pelt of the New Zealand possum has many good properties.
Unfortunately, it is also an introduced pest.
Stranger in a Strange Land
New Zealand is the last place on earth to be populated by man and it was home to many birds and reptiles, but very few animals.
When the possum was introduced from Australia in 1837 by someone who thought it would make for a great fur trade, it must have thought all its birthdays had come at once.
Across the Tasman the Australian Brush-tailed possum is a small-sized animal; a protected species, it has to fight for survival; over eons, the Australian bush has developed sophisticated biological survival techniques, while Australian critters like dingoes and wallabies have developed a keen taste for possum. Protected because it is an indigenous marsupial.
But in New Zealand, the possum has no natural enemies. And as it may live for up to 15 years and have the females produce two litters of babies a year, it is easy to see how the animal multiplied and thrived in New Zealand.
For the possum, the New Zealand native forest and bush is a garden of Eden; in addition, the abundance of native birds means there is an almost endless supply of tasty eggs.
It has been estimated that the feral possum population in New Zealand munches its way through two container-ship loads of vegetation every night and eats an estimated 24 million bird eggs, every night!
Much has been made of efforts to eradicate the possum over many years in New Zealand.
The traditional possum hunter has long been viewed with reverence as a Man Alone, walking mile after mile through the bush tending trap lines and making a very hard living.
The New Zealand Government's Department of Conservation (DOC) annually spends millions of Taxpayer dollars in eradication campaigns that entail aerial bombardment of hundreds of thousands of hectares of virgin bush with poison-laced carrot baits.
DOC claims its efforts have all but eradicated the possum, but when it is seriously estimated that the country's largest urban area, Auckland city, could harbor as many as two million possums it becomes difficult to take their claims seriously.
In addition to DOC the New Zealand Animal Health Board spends millions of dollars engaging trappers to regularly carry out anti-possum campaigns to protect the country's valuable beef and dairy herds from Bovine Tuberculosis, a disease that can be spread by the possum population.
Funding for this campaign comes from a levy on every beef carcass exported from New Zealand and is matched dollar for dollar by the Government.
And while the possum eradicators do what little they can to decimate New Zealand's renegade possum population, there is some commercialization as individual companies use the unique properties of the possum.
As one of the few animals that have a hollow-stemmed fiber possum is ideal as an insulation when blended with natural wool to create a high-quality yarn.
Add to that the fact that good possum pelts are unquestioningly beautiful furs that rival mink and it becomes easy to see why some people make a living from New Zealand's feral possum.
But our interest in possum is more high tech; as well as great insulation and beautiful fur, possum pelt has natural Anti-static properties, which makes it perfect for use as a lining in cases to protect hi-tech devices, like smartphones, tablet and slate computers and personal medical devices.
And we have developed a method of combining possum with other materials to create a product that has unparalleled strength as well as useful anti-static properties and good looks.
As a natural anti-static fiber we believe possum has a part to play in the development of a series of hi-tech mobile accessories. In its natural state tanned possum pelt is highly pliable. When bonded to a mid layer of a high strength material it becomes useful as a composite.
Taken to the extreme a dual layer of possum serves multiple purposes; while the pelt is anti-static, unlike cowhide tanned possum hide is an ultra-strong leather with high durability and long life properties.