Papuan Tree Kangaroo Made Its Appearance in West Papuan Jungle after 90 Years of Hiding

Almost a century, Wondiwoi tree kangaroos disappears from the wild and many think this species is extinct. Not long ago, he came out of hiding and for the first time its form was captured.

The first and last tree kangaroo was seen in 1928 by the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr. He saw it in the Wondiwoi mountains, West Papua. Mayr shot the only specimen known so far and sent it to Natural History in London. In 1933, this species was identified as Dendrolagus Mayri. Since that incident, local residents had never reported the presence of these species.

Curiosity about the disappearance of a tree kangaroo made Michael Smith an amateur botanist from England leading an expedition through the dense bamboo forest in the Wondiwoi Mountains, West Papua, Indonesia.

The man from Farnham, England planned an expedition after hearing about mysterious animals while exploring the mountains of West Papua in 2017. With the help of four Papuan porters, a local hunter who acted as guide and Norman Terok, students at the University of Papua in Manokwari, the expedition began on July 23.

A week later this group reported their findings. When found, this monkey-like kangaroo is perched on a tree. Frustrated, Smith immediately took a picture of the Wondiwoi kangaroo for the first time. Before being published, Smith sought input from tree kangaroo experts including Mark Eldridge, a marsupial biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney and Roger Martin from James Cook University.

“This is one of the most unknown mammals in the world. The species is still there, it’s amazing. The mountains are remote and difficult to access,” said Eldridge who was not involved in the expedition.

Tree Kangaroos are tropical marsupials that are close relatives of kangaroos and wallabies which live on land. Tree Kangaroo has forearm muscles to pull its body to the trunk and move around the branches by climbing and jumping.

He was found in a forest full of bamboo shrubs at an altitude of 1,500-1,700 meters. At this height, the expedition team began a distinctive stroke on the trunk left by tree kangaroos, occasionally their feces.

“We can also smell the kangaroos left behind,” Smith said.

But the difficulty faced by the expedition team was to find their physical realities. Although the weight of tree kangaroos reaches 16 kilograms, they are hard to find and covered in dense forests. A time-consuming and tiring search almost made the team desperate. Luckily, on the last day the team saw a kangaroo from a distance of 30 meters.

“After trying to find a way to take pictures, I finally got the right moment to capture the kangaroo who was peeking from behind the leaves,” Smith said.

Team Flannery, from the University of Melbourne Australia, revealed that the findings were a major breakthrough. “The pictures are clear and show typical feather colors,” said the team.

The number of tree kangaroos in Papua is decreasing due to over hunting, logging, oil palm plantations, and also mining. Luckily the Wondiwoi tree kangaroos lives in dense bamboo forests that are difficult to reach. Before finding it, Smith’s team had to cut the line. For now they are saved from various threats. The priority that needs to be done now is to collect feces or pieces of tissue of this creature to extract DNA and compare it with the DNA of the species found in 1928.


Melanesian Statehood?

I have often heard and read about the Melanesian independent state movement in West Papua. This movement had obtained support from some group in Vanuatu, in PNG as well as its other neighbouring countries, some even coming from Australia and New Zealand. A pure Melanesian homeland, free and independent from foreign-race occupation which has always been supported by brothers and sisters in the entire region of the South Pacific. The Melanesian region.

I sympathize for all struggles of the oppressed in our world. Although, as the mentions concerning the Melanesian brotherhood and race often arises, it also reminds me of the many issues I hear in many parts of the world. I am reminded of ideologies such as those established by the Ku Klux Klan, the Apartheid in old South Africa, and Hitler’s Nazi Germany being few of the most notorious and well known movements based on the idea of social purity. Without excluding many others, even the ones still existing today- how countries and governments have started to label immigrants from war-torn countries as illegal based on the colour of their skin. They are unwanted, illegal immigrants, or to be more precise, illegal human beings. Hypocrisy is at its peak. These people left to die on land and sea.

With the same rethoric regarding the Papuan independence along with its arguments, it all ends and lead us back to the root basis, which is race.

Is this real? Is this true? Is this the path that we want for our future? I dare say no.

I was brought up by my mother to read, and as a child, one of my favourite stories was about a young and poor girl selling candles during Christmas Eve in a small town in Europe. It was written by H.C. Andersen, who was famous for his children stories, a man that must be as white as any Scandinavian was born. I was also highly invested to books written by Chinese authors such as To Liong To, Sin Tiauw Hiap, Warrior from Tai Li, among others. The authors, definitely as Chinese as a Chinese can be. During adolescence, I enjoyed books written by Charles Dickens, Yasunari Kawabata, and titles such as Dracula by Bram Stoker, as well as Le Carre with his spy thriller stories. From these literature many others, I have learned a few things, including the fact that there is no such thing that can be regarded as purity in culture and race. Such ideas are only a nightmare which was created by lunatics that bring us nothing but sorrow.

I listen to old tembang from Javanese traditional music, especially West Javanese. I love Mozart and Sibelius. Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Avishai Cohen, Astor Piazzolla, and Debussy. I have also come to enjoy Korean pop, among many other kinds of music. All in all, I dream in thousands of languages that gives peace to my heart. I am human.

For these reasons, I must say that I will never support any political movement nor organization based on racial arguments. No matter who they are, powerful or weak.

Racism in an insult to humanity and should be regarded as cancer.

Editor’s Note: Articles in Opinion section are written by West Papua Now readers. Please contact us should you wish to share your opinion to our readers.

Ellen Aragay, First Papuan to Represent Indonesia in International Beauty Pageant

Ellen Rachel Aragay, a West Papuan English teacher, represents Indonesia in the Face of Beauty International 2018 in India, 7-17 September 2018. She was the first runner up of the 2014 Miss Indonesia and by participating in the beauty contest, she hopes to bring campaign to stop domestic abuse.

“We will campaign on how to stop violence against women both in the household and in relationships,” Ellen told Ata Hasegem, who interviewed her for BBC Indonesia.

The Face of Beauty International was known as Miss Teen Face of Beauty International and first held in 2012. This contest aims to share the visions and ideas of women throughout the world, according to her who was an alumni of International Miracle Institute in Florida. She also competed in the last ASEAN Basketball Cup in 2018.

Her experiences as a teacher also give her an important role to elevate education in Papua particularly through English education.

According to Ellen, her participation in the beauty contest confirms that Papuan or Melanesian are equal to other people.

“We are the same, have competitiveness, achievement, and creativity that are not inferior to other people in the world. Like intellectual intelligence and the ability to socialize,” she said.

Ellen said that her participation in this contest was also a kind of personal achievement. She told that she was once a victim of bullying when she was in junior high school because of her physical appearance. Because of that, she once didn’t want to go to school for about three months. But then she used it as a motivation for her success.

“I struggled, Then I was able to I graduated with good grades. So I proved,” she said while laughing.


Source: BBC Indonesia