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Buergers'/Goodfellow's (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) and Matschie's (Dendrolagus matschiei) Tree Kangaroos Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status & Threats to Survival

  • Tree kangaroos
    • All Dendrolagus species may be threatened with extinction due to over-hunting and habitat loss from agricultural, forestry, mining (Hutchins et al. 1991)
    • Population declines and habitat loss accelerated in the past several decades (Bonaccorso 1998)
    • In Papua New Guinea, over 95% of land owned by aboriginal peoples - establishment of government-owned parks and conservation areas not viable option (TKCP 2012)
  • Buergers' tree kangaroo
    • Endemic to New Guinea (Central Cordillera) (Flannery et al. 1996)
      • No recent population estimates
      • Locally common where human population density extremely low (Flannery & Seri 1990)
      • Marked decline since European settlement (George 1979)
        • Former populations in Kraetke Ranges and Sepik-Wahgi Divide reduced/exterminated by hunting
    • Major threats (Leary et al. 2008a, Martin 2005)
      • Hunted for food and cultural artifacts
        • Vulnerable to hunting with dogs - virtually impossible to locate without
      • Habitat loss through local deforestation due to logging, agriculture, climate change
  • Matschie's tree kangaroo
    • Endemic to New Guinea (restricted to Huon peninsula, nearby islands) (Flannery et al. 1996)
      • Introduced on Umboi Island and West New Britain
      • <2,500 adults remain, all in a single subpopulation (Leary et al. 2008b)
    • Major threats (Leary et al. 2008b)
      • Overhunting for food by local people
      • Habitat loss due to human encroachment
        • Conversion of forest to subsistence agricultural use
        • Human population of the Huon Peninsula rapidly growing
        • Coffee production increasing
        • Active nickel mine on northern edge of the mountain range

Conservation Status

  • Goodfellow's tree kangaroo
    • IUCN Status: Endangered (2016 assessment) (Leary et al. 2016)
      • Based on ongoing population decline of at least 50% over the past three generations due to hunting and habitat loss
    • CITES status: Not listed (UNEP 2020)
    • Endangered Species Act status: Not listed (18 Apr 2018)
  • Matschie's tree kangaroo
    • IUCN Status: Endangered (2016 assessment; Ziembicki and Porolak 2016)
      • Fewer than 2,500 mature individuals in the wild
      • Small range; restricted to high elevations
      • Naturally low population density
      • All individuals in a single subpopulation
      • Continued decline due to hunting and habitat loss
    • CITES status: Not listed (as of Apr 2018)
    • Endangered Species Act status: Not listed (18 Apr 2018)

Management Actions

  • IUCN - action plan for Papua New Guinea (Kennedy 1992)
    • Review conservation legislation, enact threatened species legislation
    • Redesign conservation system, establish Nature Conservation Authority
    • Develop comprehensive species conservation program, vigorously pursue conservation actions
    • Review/reactivate existing Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), seek international expertise/resources, perform early assessment
    • Involve landowners, be aware of hunting pressures, encourage compatible use (tourism etc.)
    • Ban environmentally destructive development projects in protected areas
    • Prioritize all Endangered or Vulnerable species
    • Monitor all marsupials or monotremes with range limitations as Potentially Vulnerable
    • Conduct surveys to establish status and conservation needs of endemic marsupials
    • Doria's tree kangaroo (D. dorianus)
      • Reserve and protect significant populations
    • Goodfellow's tree kangaroo (including Buergers' subspecies)
      • Conduct surveys to establish range, status, and ecology
      • Reserve and protect significant populations
      • Participate in captive breeding program
  • Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) - conservation assessment/management plan for tree kangaroos of Papua New Guinea (Bonaccorso 1998)
    • Survey all tree kangaroo taxonomic groups across Papua New Guinea
    • Conduct natural history research in field
      • Population trends
      • Genetics, age structure, breeding characteristics in the wild
      • Habitat/space use - home ranges, seasonal activity, migration, response to habitat alteration
      • Food requirements
    • Collect tissues for molecular testing - determine taxonomic relationships
    • Evaluate impact of hunting and cultural practices on tree kangaroo populations/habitats
      • Explore methods of directing hunting pressure away from females
      • Develop population models to determine sustainable levels of hunting
    • Conduct research on captive populations
    • Establish recovery program for Critically Endangered species (D. scottae, D. pulcherrimus)
    • Raise environmental awareness in local populations
      • Publish tree kangaroo newsletter in Melanesian Pigin and English
      • Develop student and community education programs
      • Develop alternatives for local communities to meet social needs
    • Recommendations to government - informational materials, ranger training, eco-tourism, licensingand regulations, guidelines for tree kangaroo holding facilities
  • Buergers' tree kangaroo - most recent IUCN update (Leary et al. 2008a):
      • Develop hunting regulations and local awareness programs
      • Collect additional information on tree kangaroo biology: taxonomy, distribution, abundance, natural history, threats
  • Matschie's tree kangaroo - Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) (Ancrenaz et al. 2007; Dabek 1997)
    • TKCP is part of AZA's Tree Kangaroo Species Survival Plan (TK-SSP)
    • Mission
      • Increase knowledge about natural history of tree kangaroos
      • Record stories/beliefs about tree kangaroos
      • Support existing conservation and education projects
      • Set up new conservation education programs
      • Encourage conservation awareness among landowners
    • Projects
      • Concentrated on Matschie's tree kangaroos on Huon Peninsula
        • Local education and outreach - raising awareness about threats to tree kangaroo survival, identifying ways local community can help sustain the populations
        • Created locally managed 187,000-acre conservation area to prevent habitat destruction and wildlife species decline (TKCP 2012)
      • Also performing research on Doria's and Goodfellow's (including Buergers') tree kangaroos in Central Cordillera region
        • Field site near village of Maimafu
        • Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area

One Island and Nowhere Else

Tree kangaroo sitting on ground

Hunting, habitat loss, and a naturally small range pose dangers to tree kangaroo populations. Most species are endangered.

The Buergers' and Matschie's tree kangaroos live within a small portion of Papua New Guinea.

Image credit: © Johnathan Nightingale (Canada); Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Page Citations

Ancrenaz et al. (2007)
Flannery & Seri (1990)
George (1979)
Hutchins et al. (1991)
Kennedy (1992)
Leary et al. (2008a)
Leary et al. (2008b)
Martin (2005)
Stabach et al. (2009)
TKCP (2012)

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