Tenkile Tree Kangaroo

Tenkile Dendrolagus scottae
(Critically Endangered)

Saving tree kangaroos icon

Saving Tree Kangaroos

The Tenkile and Weimang Tree Kangaroos are Critically Endangered because of hunting and limited distribution. Hunting moratoriums have been in place since 1999. Tenkile numbers have increased from 100 – 300 animals as a result.

We have established hunting moratoriums with the villages we work with.

Component 1:

Facilitate effective immediate protection for all Critically Endangered (CR) species within the Torricelli Mountain Range, through establishment of hunting moratoriums by members, landowners and communities. Three tree kangaroo flagship species to be protected: the Tenkile (Dendrolagus scottae) (CR), Weimang (D. pulcherrimus) (CR) and the Grizzled tree kangaroo (D. inustus) (Vulnerable (VU)). Additionally the Northern Glider (Petaurus abidi) (CR) and the Black Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus rufoniger) (CR) to be included.

The major activity, to achieve this objective, is to establish hunting moratoriums every two years. This is a written and signed agreement, which reminds and recommits the stakeholders of their commitment to the protection of Critically Endangered (CR) species throughout the Torricelli Mountain Range.

Hunting Moratorium

TCA has maintained hunting moratoria for all three species of Tree Kangaroo since 2009. NB: The first Tenkile moratorium was established in 1999, Weimang moratorium began in 2007 and in 2009 the Grizzled Tree Kangaroo (VU), which is found across the TMRCA, was included in the hunting moratorium.
The ongoing hunting moratorium has lead to no hunting of the Tenkile, Weimang and Grizzled Tree Kangaroos and other species within their distribution for more than a decade. Consequently tree kangaroo populations are now increasing. Staff and stakeholder accounts, camera trap images and results from point transect Distance Sampling all indicate and increase in presence, distribution and population of Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos.
A key to this success has been the on-the-ground presence within the project area and constant communication with both male and female village representatives, commonly referred to as TCA Reps, from the 50 participating moratorium villages. A constant dialogue on Tree Kangaroos remains a focus of TCA with accounts relayed and recorded at each meeting at TCA Base-Lumi.
See the Tenkile Conservation Alliance for a list of all participating communities.

Weimang Tree Kangaroo

Weimang D. pulcherrimus
(Critically Endangered)

Component 2:

Conduct research to monitor tree kangaroo populations.

Previous Research

Research – Distance Sampling

The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) uses Point Transect Distance Sampling as a technique to estimate the density of Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos. The Tenkile and Weimang presently have little overlap within their distributions – the Tenkile’s range is presently ~150 square kilometres on the west of the Torricelli’s; whilst the Weimang’s distribution is estimated at ~350 square kilometres. Consequently TCA has established seven ‘Tenkile’ and seven ‘Weimang’ research sites. The ‘Tenkile’ sites were established in 2003 with the ‘Weimang’ sites in 2008-9.

Each research site has been chosen by the landowners and are mostly placed on ridge tops, where traditional stories and ancestral meaning to these animals began.

Each site’s baseline is one kilometre in length, containing 20 transects spaced 50 metres apart. There are 150 transect points per site, they are spaced 15 metres apart along each transect.

Due to the steep terrain of the TMR the number of point per transect varies to the terrain of each site. Generally, if a slope is greater than 40 degrees it is deemed too steep.

Each of these 14 Research sites have been established via a compass, clinometer and Global Positioning System (GPS).

Scats/dung are the objective of this research. A Research team, consisting of Research Officers (ROs) and Rangers search for the objective. When found the location and distance from the transect point is recorded. The objective, Scats/dung, are collected and stored in ethanol and taken back to TCA Base-Lumi.

Using the program ‘DISTANCE’ and truncating data to seven metres using various parameters such as decay rate TCA has made some estimates. The ‘Tenkile’ sites have been surveyed 10 times from 2003 – 2013. The Weimang sites only twice, 2009-13.

Each site is expensive to survey and presently costs ~K15,000 per survey. Organising and inputting the data also requires significant time etc. Presently this Research and its data are on hold, with TCA hoping to raise funds to publish and continue with improved methods of Sampling.
Contact us to receive a copy of the Distance Sampling Training Manual.

Research – Hunting Surveys

TCA has conducted hunting surveys with community members from every village to monitor and assess hunting behaviour. Surveys, conducted by TCA staff and volunteers in 2012 and 2013. Further hunting surveys are planned. These surveys have shown an obvious decline in Tree Kangaroo numbers until the mid-80s, where hunting survey results indicate that hunters rarely caught them after then.

Current Research

Research – Camera Trapping

The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) has been using camera traps since 2011. A successful crowd source funding project in partnership with Deakin University, Australia enabled TCA buy camera traps in 2013 and TCA has procured funding from UNDP/GEF since to purchase more. To date TCA owns 50 Reconyx camera traps.

Different survey methods have been trialed. Our Camera Trapping Book outlines the methods we use to gain the best camera trap results. Our main focus are the Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos.

All three species of tree kangaroos have been recorded via camera traps. The results concur with some previous estimates such as distribution and times active. These results have brought communities closer together via the elders being able to identify species that have been hunted close to extinction and not known by younger generations.

Obtaining a camera trap image of a Tree Kangaroo is a huge result. It not only concludes the presence of the species, but it tells us when they are active, what elevations they frequent and even information on their reproduction. Many camera trap shots have shown young at heel and in the pouch. There have even been some courtship recorded. In the case of the Weimang, patterns of tails show different animals from the images of camera traps.

Camera traps have also given us more information on the biodiversity, species distribution, species limitations and climate change.

We aim to continue camera trapping as funding permits. Each field trip requires 12 people to set the traps at the research site and then to retrieve them. Costs for field trips vary depending on transport but an average of K25,000 ($10,000 US) is required each year to conduct the fieldwork required. If you want to assist TCA continue this work, click here.

Captive Tree Kangaroos

At TCA Base-Lumi there are captive Tree Kangaroos.

Since 2004 TCA has held Tree Kangaroos in Lumi. TCA presently holds seven Grizzled and three Weimang Tree Kangaroos at TCA Base-Lumi.

Most of these animals are captive bred, being referred to as F2 – F1 being wild founders. The original animals did not come to us upon request, but when adult female Tree Kangaroos were hunted and their young offered to us. Sometimes animals are brought to us when they are very young, making it difficult to hand-raise them. Sometimes we have been successful sometimes not. Those that have survived are cared for by our ground staff at TCA Base-Lumi. TCA has built eight large enclosures, which house our present Tree Kangaroos.

These animals are important for our education courses and assist with our research i.e. decay rate of scats and defecation rate with DISTANCE. They will also assist us with future research on Tree Kangaroos. 

New Research

Research –  Radio Trapping

The radio tracking of tree kangaroos can be fraught with difficulties. Tim Flannery and his team encountered difficulties with radio tracking Tenkile in the early 90s. Since then the technology has vastly improved with Matchies and Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos being radio tracked successfully in PNG and Australia respectively. From having Tree Kangaroos in captivity at TCA Base-Lumi we can trial the technology on these individuals.

Grizzled Tree Kangaroo

Grizzled D. inustus

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Subscribe to our mailing list

There are many valuable ways in which you can contribute to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance’s vision – which is, the people of PNG value and protect their natural resources, their community and their culture.
Click 'Contribute' button below to learn more.

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