New Species of Mammals Found in Papa New Guinea

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By Afza Fathima | June 26, 2014 1:53 PM EST

In the remote forests of Papua New Guinea, new species of mammals have been found by Australian scientists. An ecologist, Euan Ritchie from Deakin University in Melbourne, documented the new specied in the Torricelli mountain range.

REUTERS
Tree kangaroos are the biggest native mammal in Papua New Guinea.

Three new species of mammals previously unidentified, in addition to images of endangered tree kangaroos, were discovered by 40 cameras that were installed in the wild.

Euan Ritchie said, "We certainly got an image of what we think is a new species of sort of small kangaroo, dorcopsulus wallaby. Think small dog-size wallaby if you like. There's also things like bandicoots and rodents that don't appear to be in any of the books that we know about." He explained that to actually confirm that they'll have to go back there one day and actually catch these animals and get them in the hand and take measurements and DNA samples.

"There's a whole range, probably hundreds and hundreds of species, not just in mammals but the birds, the insects, all sorts of species that are probably unknown to western science," Ritchie said. He noted that the discoveries show Papua New Guinea has incredibly valuable forests and habitats and the region is a global biodiversity hot-spot, and that there's a whole range of species that are almost certain to be new to science and also new to that region.

Tree kangaroos are the biggest native mammal in Papua New Guinea, so they are highly sought after, noted Jim Thomas, director of Tenkile Conservation Alliance. He said that in the remote areas, the bush is everyone's supermarket ,so previously people would go out and hunt the animals. He mentioned that because the tenkile and the weimang are big animals, they're the prize, and so hunting pressure has caused a decline of these animals. 

Jim and his wife have been working with villagers for more than a decade to protect tree kangaroos and their habitat. He explained that once people had tangible benefits in their villages and realised that they were there to help them.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Nir Elias)
Tree kangaroos are the biggest native mammal in Papua New Guinea.
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