World’s rarest tree kangaroo gets help from those who once hunted it
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
August 17, 2009
An interview with Jim and Jean Thomas of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance
The world’s rarest tree kangaroo is in the midst of a comeback in a remote part of New Guinea.
On the brink of extinction in 2001 with a population estimated at fewer than 100 individuals, Scott’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae), or the tenkile, is recovering, thanks to the efforts of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance to motivate local communities to reduce hunting and respect critical forest habitat. The tenkile Conservation Alliance, led by Australians Jim and Jean Thomas, works to provide alternative sources of protein and raise environmental awareness among local communities.
Although the tenkile has always been relatively rare, its decline began only recently as a result of profound social changes in local communities wrought by the entrance of missionaries, who encouraged traditional hunter-gatherer societies to settle in villages. This led to rapid population growth and an accompanying increase in demand for game. As local taboos to ensure sustainable use were abandoned, overhunting quickly reduced the abundance of all forms of wildlife, including the tenkile. Today the tenkile also faces a new threat: habitat loss due to subsistence agriculture and logging.
In the face of these challenges, the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) is taking a multifaceted approach to ensure that local people benefit from conservation. Education programs to ensure that villagers understand the impact of unrestrained hunting and forest clearing have led to a moratorium on hunting of the tenkile, while turning the species into a local source of pride.
Tree Kangaroos: Papua New Guinea’s Rare, Fuzzy Creatures: here.