Papua New Guinea and its mountains are home to amazing animals like tree kangaroos and cuscuses, many species of which are found nowhere else on earth. It is of enormous concern that many of this region's animals are under severe threat of extinction. Can you imagine that some of these may disappear forever during our lifetimes?
Our project, a partnership between Deakin University and The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), will undertake the first comprehensive camera trapping study of animals in the spectacular and remote Torricelli Mountain range (with its highest peak above 1600m). Using automated cameras that sense movement is the best way to collect information about secretive and rare animals living in dense forest and rugged terrain. We will provide crucial knowledge about where these species live and in what numbers, including the critically endangered Tenkile or Scott’s Tree Kangaroo and Weimang or Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo. Our project will work out which habitats are most important for these animals which is what we need to know if we are to save them.
What will we achieve?
The major outcome of our project will be new information on the locations of animals within Papua New Guinea’s Torricelli Mountains. In particular, we will identify which species occur only in small areas and therefore may be most vulnerable to human-caused threats such as habitat loss and modification (logging and mining), and climate change. Importantly, by conducting this study, we will be able to collect valuable location and ecological information on the Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos. Through our work we aim to improve international awareness of Papua New Guinea's unique fauna and highlight the urgency of their conservation.
Why is our work so important?
Papua New Guinea and its majestic mountains are utterly captivating, and represent one of the few areas in the world that remain relatively unaffected by human impacts. Coupled with this, there are many plants and animals in this region that are likely to be unknown to science. But sadly, this region is beginning to experience increased pressure from logging and mining and faces the very real threat of negative impacts from climate change. There is much cause for pessimism. Until, that is, you introduce the TCA - a standout success story in conservation. The TCA treats causes, not symptoms, and will inspire all who are concerned about the conservation of wildlife.
In the Torricellis, local people have been working with the TCA for more than 10 years now and the locals have learned the value of their wildlife and natural resources. Our project will increase pride and knowledge of their fauna, resulting in local people further protecting the Torricelli Mountain Range and its inhabitants.
Here is what Tim Flannery has said about the TCA and its work:
The Tenkile, and possibly the Weimang, may have been extinct by now if not for the dedication of…the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA). A decade on, the TCA is the most successful conservation organisation in Melanesia…The TCA is also assisting in the education of children through a scholarships program which pays for school fees, and is creating employment through a ranger program that monitors endangered species and provides progress reports to the villagers…It’s important to understand how unusual such achievements are in Melanesia. There is no equivalent program anywhere in the region, and no other organisation I know of in a developing country has had anything like this degree of success.
Tim Flannery, After the Future: Australia’s New Extinction Crisis, Quarterly Essay (2012)
Hear Sir David Attenborough speak about the TCA and its award-winning achievements.
Why do we need your support?
We ask for your generous support to help meet the costs of two trips of four weeks each to the Torricelli Mountains. We could reduce the number of trips and time in the field to make our project cheaper, but that would mean we couldn't collect sufficient information on these precious species, placing their long-term futures in jeopardy. Our expenses include flights from Melbourne to Papua New Guinea return for Jim and Euan, and field costs (purchase of remote cameras, food, accommodation and security). We know $20,000 may seem a lot, and we'll certainly be extremely and eternally grateful to all those that donate and support our project. But please be aware that it is simply not possible to carry out meaningful work in such a remote area for less than this. And also know that anything above this amount will mean we can greatly expand the reach of our project (i.e. more cameras, more sites, longer field time) and hence its success and benefits to these extraordinary animals of Papua New Guinea.
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How do I stay in touch with updates?
Easy, we will post regular updates to all of our donors and you can also check out what's happening here.
We thank you for your support and are confident that together we can help to reverse the extinction crisis and save some of Papua New Guinea's most special and irreplaceable animals.
Euan and Jim