Dendrolagus matschiei 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Macropodidae

Scientific Name: Dendrolagus matschiei Förster & Rothschild, 1907
Common Name(s):
English Huon Tree Kangaroo, Matschie's Tree-kangaroo
Taxonomic Notes: Consisdered by some (e.g. Groves 1982) to be synonymous with D. deltae, D. spadix and D. goodfellowi. Flannery (1995) says that D. matschiei is different in a number of ways, so should be kept separate.

Australasian Monotreme & Marsupial Specialist Group regard D. deltae as a synonym of D. matschei, but recognised D. spadix, D. goodfellowi and D. scottae as valid species (John Seebeck in litt. 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-06-29
Assessor(s): Ziembicki, M. & Porolak, G.
Reviewer(s): Pacifici, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Johnson, C.N.
Listed as Endangered because the number of mature individuals is expected to be less than 2,500 based on its naturally low population density and small extent of occurrence (restricted to high elevations), there is a continuing population decline due to hunting pressures and habitat loss, and all individuals are contained within a single subpopulation.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is restricted to the high elevations of the Huon Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, Papua New Guinea. There is a population present on the island of Umboi, Papua New Guinea, but this is "almost certainly introduced" (Flannery 1995a), and although this population is mapped it is not considered for the purposes of listing. It has been recorded between 1,000 and 3,300 m asl. The extent of occurrence is less than 14,000 km².
Countries occurrence:
Papua New Guinea
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1000
Upper elevation limit (metres):3300
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Accurate estimates of the population size of the Huon Tree Kangaroo are difficult to make because of the species' naturally low population densities and the challenge of effectively surveying this cryptic species in its remote and mountainous range on the Huon Peninsula. The recently established YUS Ecological Monitoring Program uses standing scat counts and DNA faecal analysis to monitor the relative abundance of macropods and other game taxa in relation to protected area status and hunting intensity (using distance to village as a proxy measure) in the YUS Conservation Area (Ziembicki et al. 2012). Huon Tree Kangaroos (and other macropods) were found at greater abundance within no-take zones and with lower hunting pressure. This is an encouraging finding given that most no-take zones in the region were established within only 2-10 years preceding the study (Ziembicki et al. 2012). Translating scat counts to reliable population estimates, however, is complicated by a lack of knowledge of scat production rates per individual and variability in decomposition rates (therefore detectability) of scats at different elevations.

A recent study of movements and home range of the species at 3000 m asl estimated densities of females at this elevation at one per 19.4 ha – an estimate far lower than for better-studied tree kangaroo species in north-eastern Australia (Porolak et al. 2014). Current research by the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program aims to replicate this study at lower elevations. This information, along with ongoing long-term monitoring in the YUS region, will improve the reliability of estimates of population size and trends for this species.

Population trend: probably decreasing across the range, but abundance seems to have stabilized (and is possibly increasing) in ‘no-take’ zones in the YUS Conservation Area.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2500Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
All individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Huon Tree Kangaroo is found in tropical montane and upper montane forests between 1000 and 3300 m asl. A recent study of the ranging behaviour of 15 individuals in upper montane forests (circa 3000 m asl) in the YUS Conservation Area found home range area was an average of 139.6 ±26.5 ha, with no difference between males and females. These home ranges are 40-100 times larger than those of Australian tree kangaroos or other rainforest macropods, possibly because of greater hunting impacts reducing density in PNG, and/or because of the comparatively much lower productivity of their high altitude habitat (Porolak et al. 2014). The study found limited overlap of core ranges between neighbouring females, but unlike the Australian species, extensive overlap between females at their whole range. Males overlapped each other and females to a greater extent than did pairs of females.

In captivity, females have a gestation period of about 44 days (Heath et al. 1990); in captivity the young permanently leave the pouch by about 41 weeks (Dabek 1994).


Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The human population of the Huon Peninsula is growing rapidly. The Huon Tree Kangaroo is threatened by overhunting by local people, habitat loss due to conversion of forest to subsistence agricultural use and general human encroachment. The erosion and breakdown of traditional ecological knowledge and practices may also contribute to greater hunting pressure and change in fire management practices that affect habitat. The role of hunting and traditional knowledge is currently under investigation in the YUS Conservation Area by James Cook University and Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program researchers.

At higher elevations, forest wildfires caused by prolonged periods of drought is a major threat to these ecosystems. During an intensive El Niño event in 1997 a major wildfire destroyed upper montane forests in large parts of the Sarawaged and Finisterre Ranges, reducing favourable habitat in several regions. The impacts of climate change are likely to exacerbate this threat through increased frequency and/or intensity of such fires in the future.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The Huon Tree Kangaroo is a flagship species and the original reason for the establishment of the YUS Conservation Area. The YUS Conservation Area on the Huon Peninsula is named for its three main rivers - Yopno, Uruwa and Som - and covers 76,000 hectares of tropical forest from Papua New Guinea's northern coast to its interior mountains. It is Papua New Guinea’s first conservation area established under the 1978 Conservation Areas Act. The protected area is a community-based conservation area established in partnership with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) – a local NGO. The area is managed by the local community with the aid of TKCP according to the YUS Landscape Management Plan. As part of the plan, the YUS Ecological Monitoring Program was established to monitor trends in the status of several focal game species in the YUS Conservation Area. As noted under 'Population', there is evidence for stabilization of decline and possible increase of Huon Tree Kangaroos in no-take zones within the YUS CA. 

Citation: Ziembicki, M. & Porolak, G. 2016. Dendrolagus matschiei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T6433A21956650. . Downloaded on 24 November 2017.
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