• TENKILE CONSERVATION ALLIANCE
  • julho 16th, 2014

 

Background

The Tenkile, or Scott’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae) was first described by Dr Tim Flannery in 1989. Tenkile is one of 14 species of Tree Kangaroo, twelve species are found on the island and a few adjacent islands of New Guinea and two species are located in far north Queensland in Australia. Tenkile has the smallest range than any other species of Tree Kangaroo and consequently is considered to be the rarest. It is restricted to a small area, approximately 150 square kilometres, on the summit of the Torricelli Mountain Range of Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The Tenkile is a large, dark brown to black Tree Kangaroo with a very distinctive scent. Tenkile shares its domain with two other species of Tree Kangaroo, the Finsch’s Tree Kangaroo (D. inustus finschi) and the Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo, or Weimang (D. pulcherrimus). The Torricelli’s are very unique in that this is the only place where three species of Tree Kangaroo co-exist.

Tenkile
Weimang
Finsch’s

Tenkiles’ range has subsequently shrunk and now it only survives on the highest peaks of the Torricelli’s at elevations above 900m.

Tree Kangaroos have a slow reproductive rate, an adult female may give birth every 12-18 months, and this makes them vulnerable to hunting.

In 1998 a Population and Viability workshop of Tree Kangaroos was conducted at the Rainforest Habitat in Lae-Papua New Guinea (PNG). This workshop consisted of representatives from Australian and American Zoos, Conservation organisations, PNG government and landowners. This workshop discussed the status of Tree Kangaroos in PNG and concluded that Tenkile was the most endangered of all species of Tree Kangaroo. Consequently, Tenkile was categorized as critically endangered by IUCN.

In 2001 the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) was established as a Non-government Organisation in PNG. TCA formed its own Board consisting of representatives from Australian and American zoos and a local landowner. TCA employed a Project Officer (for two years) and this resulted in awareness of the program being carried out.

In 2003, TCA formed a partnership with Australian Volunteers International (AVI) and employed Mr. Jim Thomas as Project Manager and Mrs. Jean Thomas as Education Officer. AVI provided support via medical insurance and some travel expenses. The programs TCA have committed itself to have been funded by successful grant applications and support from Australian Zoos.

TCA is using is using a research technique called “Distance Sampling”. It involves the counting and collection of scats (dung) to estimate the population of Tree Kangaroos and to determine whether the moratorium is working or not. TCA has estimated that the population of Tenkile has increased from approximately 170 (in 2004) to 230 (in 2006). This is a significant result and clearly indicates that the landowners are protecting their Tenkile.

In late 2004, TCA confirmed that the Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo (or Weimang) still exists in the east of the Torricelli’s. In 2006 TCA established a hunting moratorium for Weimang with villages which have it on their land. TCA aims to establish research sites to conduct Distance Sampling and radio tracking on Weimang.

To ensure the survival and future preservation of all flora and fauna of the Torricelli’s TCA feels it is imperative to investigating whether this mountain range could be made a “Conservation Area”. If the Torricelli’s could be made a Conservation Area it would legally protect it from logging, mining and human hunting. This area would be managed and maintained by the landowners. If implemented, a Conservation Area would almost guarantee a lasting contribution to the nature conservation of this very unique area and would be the first of its kind in PNG.

 

Boundary of Conservation Area

TCA has written agreements with all 18 Tenkile villages for establishing a Conservation Area and has begun discussions with the 18 Weimang villages. TCA has held meetings with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and is well under way for establishing the Torricelli Mountain Range-Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea as a “Conservation Area”

Communities

TCA works closely with 18 Tenkile villages and 18 Weimang villages. In total TCA works with approximately 10,000 people from eight different tok ples. TCA has its main base in Lumi with a smaller base in Sibilanga. TCA staff regularly patrol to each village. The Weimang villages are newcomers to the program and have only been stakeholders since 2006. TCA has an excellent rapport with the communities it works with and this is attributed to being honest and fair to all of the stakeholders.

 

Commitment

TCA is committed to the preservation and protection of the Torricelli Mountain Range using two critically endangered Tree Kangaroos as flagship species. Since 2003 TCA has been actively involved in education, research, community development and outreach programs. The well being of the communities has improved since the establishment of TCA.

Conclusion

 The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) is an active non-government organisation (NGO) in Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea. TCA has improved in all aspects of its work since its inception in 2001 and has completed many projects. TCA is recognised by the people of Aitape/Lumi and Nuku Districts as the only active body in the area.

The Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA) has recognised TCA as the best in-situ conservation program in the region. TCA is a hard working organisation that has proven itself in terms of commitment to on the ground conservation, education, stakeholder participation and involvement, and community development.