Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tenkile Conservation Alliance

(PNG) is home to a number of threatened and endangered species; one of these is the (; Scott's Tree Kangaroo).  According to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance:
tenkileThe Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) aims to save the critically endangered Tenkile, or Scott's Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae), from becoming extinct.

The Tenkile is one of the most endangered mammal species in the world with as few as one hundred individuals remaining. So it is really now or never to save the Tenkile. TCA works in the Torricelli Mountains of Papua New Guinea researching the animal, providing education to the schools and helping the community.
Tenkile are tree kangaroos; they are marsupials, typically about 10kg (22 pounds).  They are vegetarian, with a diurnal activity pattern.  Most sightings these days are of single individuals.  Historically, they have been observed to live in families of four.  There are listed as "critically endangered," having about 100 surviving individuals, and a range of only 50 square kilometers.  

Tenkile range

What is interesting about the TCA's effort is the way they are helping to reduce predation of tenkiles.  The local humans traditionally have hunted the tenkile.  The TCA has introduced rabbits to breed, and is teaching the people to raise the rabbits and make use of them. The idea is that people can eat rabbit meat, instead of hunting tenkiles.

The environment in Papua New Guinea is not conducive to rabbit breeding; consequently, there is little concern about the possibility of rabbits escaping and causing environmental damage.  

TCA does not limit its activities to conservation of tenkiles.  The have started a local educational radio program.  They conduct educational programs in local schools.
Students learn about the discovery of Tenkile, the establishment of a hunting moratorium and Tenkile Conservation Alliance.
They also teach children about zoology, ecology, and general conservation principles.  (Perhaps in their spare time, they could come to the US and teach our adults a few of these things, too.)

There are adult education courses in the local villages.  Local people learn about nutrition.  They also participate in a drama program that has a educational purpose, as well as being a form of entertainment and community-building.

The clever aspect to the TCA's operation, is the way in which the workers have integrated themselves into the community.  This gives them credibility among the people.  Moreover, they do not merely go in and tell people what not to do; rather, they provide a practical alternative.

From Paul Downey's Flickr page
this photo by Paul Downey; others courtesy of Jim and Jean

If you are so inclined, you can contribute to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance here.