Tree kangaroos face extinction

National, Normal

The National – Monday, February 14, 2011

THE tree kangaroos of Papua New Guinea, along with some species of wallabies, are all threatened with extinction and concerted action is required to save them.
WWF-Australia, Threatened species programme manager, Michael Roache, during a joint news conference held by WWF-Australia, WWF Western Melanesia and Tenkile Conservation Alliance last month said it was agreed during a recent meeting of experts and government officials that if nothing was done to conserve these species in the next 10 years, many of them could become extinct.
“The aim of the meeting was to plan for the protection and conservation of Papua New Guinea’s treasured tree kangaroos and wallabies, collectively known as macropods, ensuring they remain a valuable part of PNG’s landscape and culture long into the future.
“Many people are unaware that these species are endangered principally by human activities, such as unsustainable logging and hunting and the meeting focused on strategies to reverse these threats and to increase public awareness of this situation.
“Another of the barriers to conserving tree kangaroos and wallabies is the poor state of knowledge about their ecology, their population distribution, habitats and feeding habits and it will be essential to fill these knowledge gaps in order to successfully recover these species,” Roache said.
Local NGO Tenkile Conservation Alliance director Jim Thomas told the news conference that his long experience in conserving threatened tree kangaroos in West Sepik highlighted the importance of community engagement in conservation projects, providing training and sustainable livelihood development for local people living in tree kangaroo habitats.
Thomas, who has spent almost a decade working with his wife Jean to conserve the Tenkile (Scott’s) tree kangaroo, said this approach had resulted in a doubling of Tenkile numbers since the project began in 2003, along with improvements in local village employment and infrastructure. 
Ted Mamu, Terrestrial programme manager for WWF-PNG, highlighted the importance of working closely with governments at every level to ensure a secure future for PNG’s threatened species.
There are 72 species of macropod throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.