Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Wild Diet: Tree leaves, flowers, ferns, moss and bark.
Weight: 15 pounds (7 kilograms)
IUCN Status: Endangered
Habitat/Range: Cloud forests on the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea. Other species of tree kangaroos are found in Indonesia and Australia.
Characteristics: Matschie's tree kangaroos can leap 60 feet from trees to the ground without getting hurt.
Behavior: Tree kangaroos are solitary animals, spending most of their time in trees. The only strong social bond these animals form is between mother and joey.
Reproduction: Female tree kangaroos give birth to one offspring after 44 days. The tiny joey remains in the pouch for about ten months.
Conservation: Tree kangaroos were listed as "vulnerable" in 1994, but quickly declined to "endangered" in 1996. The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program was started in 1996 in Papua New Guinea to develop ways to preserve this species. Habitat protection became its primary objective.
In Papua New Guinea, indigenous people own and control more than 90%^ of the land, and they rely on it for agriculture, clean water and hunting. To gain support of the landowners, leaders of the program involved them in decision-making and helped them understand the need to protect the forests.
Together, they created a protected tree kangaroo area called YUS Conservation Area in 2009. In 2012, local villages began nominating landowners from their own communities to serve on a ranger team. These rangers spend seven days per month patrolling the Conservation Area. They look for the presence of key species and check for violations of bylaws that can harm the area. They also serve as community liaisons to help educate their neighbors about the importance of conservation, and they assist with important research in the area.
What Can I Do to Help?: You can make a difference with the products you buy every day. Whether it is a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate, each purchase is a vote for the kind of world you want.
The TKCP has created a Conservation Coffee initiative to help farmers who pledged land to the YUS Conservation Area. The initiative supports farmers with education and investments, as well as advocating for government subsidies on their behalf. This initiative is a win-win for farmers and conservationists. You can help by purchasing coffee that supports the farmers of Papua New Guinea who are trying to save the tree kangaroo or coffee that is certified as shade-grown(internet searches can help with both of these).
A similar program for cocoa farmers in YUS is in its beginning stages, so someday you may be able to help a tree kangaroo by indulging in some decadent boutique chocolate.