Port Moresby Nature Park celebrated hosting the successful International Tree Kangaroo Summit held in Port Moresby 26-30 May, the first time the event has been held in PNG.
Representatives of PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), traditional landowner groups, PNG-based conservation organizations, ZAA and more than 10 zoological institutions from PNG, USA, Australia and Germany attended to discuss the plight of tree kangaroos both in the wild and captivity.
This Summit provided an excellent opportunity for all PNG representatives to see the interest, support, and ex-situ research and conservation efforts that zoos across the world perform. Whilst in turn, also provided a rare opportunity for zoos to hear firsthand from traditional landowners and local conservation organisations on the tangible benefits that tree kangaroo conservation programs are having in PNG, not only in terms of wildlife preservation but also the benefits brought to the communities themselves.
Port Moresby Nature Park’s General Manager, Ms Michelle McGeorge said that the summit “Really provided the first true opportunity for the Nature Park to highlight to the PNG Government the ex-situ works of good zoos and worldwide interest in the species.”
“It was also the perfect opportunity to promote the importance of collaborative approaches to tree kangaroo conservation and management,” Ms McGeorge added.
Significant outcomes were made at the International Tree Kangaroo Summit including commentary by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on their consideration in establishing a third tree kangaroo conservation program in the highlands of PNG for Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos, information sharing amongst conservation organisations at all levels of the programs, recognition by CEPA on the need to increase genetic diversity in tree kangaroos held in captivity and a clearly outline as to how this may be achieved, and the establishment of a position statement by the attendees at the end of the summit.
Tree kangaroos are a unique group of animals mainly found on the island of New Guinea, with two species found in Far North Queensland, Australia. Most PNG tree kangaroo species are threatened or endangered and need protection. There are two tree kangaroo conservation programs operating in PNG recognized by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) of PNG: the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in the YUS Conservation Area, Morobe Province; and Tenkile Conservation Alliance in the Torricelli Mountain range in the East and West Sepik Provinces.
The Summit provided the opportunity for the World Zoo and Aquarium Association (WAZA) Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) to meet and participants from the summit considered advocacy messaging including that tree kangaroos are the perfect ambassadors and symbol for conservation in Papua New Guinea due to their profile worldwide.
The next International Tree Kangaroo event will be hosted in Germany by Krefeld Zoo with Port Moresby Nature Park PNG to again host the event in 2019.
Author: Burgess Yopolo – Marketing and Communications Manager