Very Rare And Only in Papua, These Are 5 Facts About The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo

Apart from the ground kangaroo species, most of the kangaroo species owned by Indonesia are tree kangaroos and these animals are also endemic to the land of Papua. Of the several species of tree kangaroo, there is 1 species which is very rare and can only be found in the dense forest of Wondiwoi mountains, West Papua. The tree kangaroo is named Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo which identifies as Dendrolagus mayri.

Here are 5 facts about the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo, a very rare animal and only found in Papua.

The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is an endemic animal from Papua which was first identified in 1928
The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is endemic to Papua, which means that this species only lives in Papua forests. This animal was first seen by a western biologist named Ernst Mayr in 1928. Mayr saw it in Wondiwoi mountain forest, West Papua, Indonesia. Mayr shot the animal, and it is the only specimen known to science till today. The skin specimens were sent to the Natural History Museum in London. The animal was identified and entered into the genus Dendrolagus and given the Latin name Dendrolagus mayri.

Since it was first seen by scientists in 1928, there were no reports of its appearance until 90 years later when its existence in nature was successfully photographed by a researcher.

Habitat and conservation status of the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo
The habitat of the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is known to be in the forests of the Wondiwoi Mountains of West Papua, the animal tracks are at 1,500 to 1,700 meters above sea level (4,900-5,600 feet). At this height the forest becomes very dense with bamboo clumps and is very difficult to pass. These natural factors may cause very few verifiable reports from local residents about sightings of these animals in nature. In fact, for 90 years these animals still exist even though they are very rare and live in secret.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the conservation status for the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is Critically Endagered or has a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

The figure of the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo was successfully immortalized on a camera in 2018
The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo has gone unnoticed for 90 years since it was first identified by a biologist in 1928, and raised concerns for a number of scientists that this species has become extinct in nature. This encourages a botanist (researcher of rare plants such as orchids and rare tulips in various forests) named Michael Smith (47 years at that time) to lead an expedition team through the density of bamboo forests at an altitude of 5,000 feet to find this animal. Smith devised an expedition after hearing about the mysterious animal while exploring the mountains of West Papua while searching for rhododendrons in 2017.

With the help of porters and a local guide Smith and the team entered the forest on 23 July 2018. A week later, after an arduous search effort Michael Smith and his team finally managed to find what they were looking for. With his camera, Michael Smith succeeded in providing photographic evidence of the existence of these animals in their natural habitat and the second sighting recorded after 1928. Michael Smith has also engaged several kangaroo experts before publishing his findings.

Michael Smith and his team identified the animal as a possible kangaroo species based on several unique factors: the animal’s large scratch marks on trees (which allow them to climb trees), the distinctive scent where it was found, and kangaroo droppings on the ground where it was found.

Smith and his team encountered the animal at about 1,500 to 1,700 meters above sea level (4,900-5,600 feet) and the tree kangaroo was on top of a tree about 30 meters (90 feet) high from the base of the forest floor. The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo has a very limited distribution area perhaps only around 40 to 80 square miles.

The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is one of the hidden treasures of biodiversity in Papua
The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is one of the living treasures hidden in Papua land. The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is one of only 17 known species and subspecies of the tree-dwelling kangaroo family.

Scientists have only learned a little information from the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo, referring to the only specimen ever captured in 1928, a male that was shot and the specimen sent to the Natural History Museum in London. In its habitat, this animal is estimated to weigh around 20 pounds (about 9 kg), its coat has a blackish base color, the fur on the lower back of its body and its limbs has a slightly reddish color and its tail is almost white.

Hopefully in the future there will be more Indonesian researchers who will also take part in biodiversity research there because Indonesia also has many expert researchers who are qualified in their fields and can add more the treasury of science in the country.

The real fact of Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo extinction
One of the factors that causes the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo to still exist even though it is very rare at this time is the natural conditions of its habitat which are still very difficult to reach but it may only be a matter of time until poachers can find them and hunt them to their death if not present real program to protect them. It is very ironic, in various parts of the world, poaching has always been a big problem for exotic and already rare animals. As an additional note, there are at least two exotic Indonesian animals that have been declared extinct by the competent authorities in the 20th century: the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) and the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica), although there is still controversy about whether a Javan tiger still exist or they completely extinct from the earth.


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