Wondiwoi? Extinct Or Hiding?

Most people don't know the animal known as the 'Wondiwoi.' There is good reason for that. It has been missing since 1928. In fact, the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo is so rare that it's believed to have been extinct.

Poorly known mammal . . .

The unusual miniature rodent-like kangaroo was reported jumping through the trees of New Guinea, but just once some 90 years ago. “It is one of the most poorly known mammals in the world,” says Mark Eldridge, a marsupial biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

2018 Expedition

In 2018, a team of botanists from the U.K. led an expedition into the near impenetrable bamboo forests of the remote Wondiwoi Mountains of West Papua, Indonesia.

“Just showing that it still exists is amazing. It’s such a remote and difficult spot to access that I was uncertain we would ever know,” says Eldridge, who was not involved in the expedition.

Michael Smith, was one of the botanists who led the expedition to find the rare species. He formed the expedition plan after hearing about the mysterious animal while scouring West Papuan mountains for rhododendrons in 2017.

He then reached out to world experts on tree kangaroos, including Elderidge and Roger Martin of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, to confirm the sightings, before going public with his expedition plans.

Many Species

The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo is one of 17 different species and sub-species of tree-dwelling kangaroos. The world's limited knowledge of the creature prompted the science world to confirm or deny. According to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance, males weigh about 20 pounds and dwell some 5,250 feet above sea level. Its fur features a blackish underlying color frosted with silvery yellow tips, while his rump and limbs are reddish and his tail almost white [in some species.]

Although it's been reported that while Wondiwoi tree kangaroo has not been pushed to extinction as previously assumed, the species remains at risk. Poaching, as well as a planned gold mine set to overtake the montane region, pose significant threats to the area’s wildlife and our elusive Wondiwoi.


Primary Source: National Geographic