In the isolated Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea, indigenous people say that the tree-kangaroo is the king and the paradise bird is the queen. However, both come at a price.
These extraordinary species have long been admired by traditional hunters, but conservationists have said that the forests they live in, one of the last wilderness regions of the planet, soon become axes and bulldozers. I’m afraid it will fall.
“The elderly say Tree-kangaroo He is the king. ” Lloyd Leo, a young resident of Gorgvip, is a mountain community, most of whom are still self-sufficient peasants, and their ancestors lived in the Neolithic era only a few decades ago.
“He lives high in the forest. Certain fruits he doesn’t eat. He only takes fresh things,” he explained.
Marsupials, which look like a mixture of kangaroos and fox monkeys, were once a type of currency and were used to pay for brides. Its tail is still worn as an emblem.
Already, the organism is listed as one of the most endangered species on the planet, considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
The area is also home to two species of paradise birds, one in the local Faiwal language called “Carrom” and the Queen of Birds.
Despite being illegal, people hunt them on a small scale. Stuffed feathers and birds are precious and are kept at home and taken to festivals.
“People are desperate”
However, as with the trees throughout Papua New Guinea, the trees around Gorgvip are valuable. The dual threat of deforestation and hunting can block the fate of the country’s unique creatures.
Voyce Knobotney, a biologist working at the New Guinea Vinatan Research Center, said:
“People will be desperate and will start development at any cost.”
The country’s population has nearly tripled since independence in 1975 and now exceeds 9 million.
With less forest left in Southeast Asia and much of the land converted to palm oil plantations, some logging companies are now focusing on Papua New Guinea, Novotny, who has worked there for 25 years. Said.
So far, authorities have primarily allowed “selective” logging. This allows the forest to recover quickly. But that may change, he said.
“Currently, there is increasing pressure on large-scale agricultural projects. The big problem here is oil palm. After the first cut, it comes in second and third. It will soon destroy the forest structure. It basically happened in Borneo, “said Novotny. ..
According to the Global Forest Watch monitoring website, forests in Papua New Guinea covered 93% of the surface in 2010.
But the country has seen a 3.7 percent decline Tree cover According to the website since 2000.
At COP26, the global United Nations Climate Summit this year, Papua New Guinea was one of about 100 countries that promised to end deforestation by 2030.
However, illegal logging has become so problematic that NGOs and some local politicians are demanding that authorities take urgent action.
Raggiana bird of paradise is listed on the national flag, and officially only one related species, the blue bird of paradise, is described as “vulnerable” by IUCN, but biologists are sure to know their condition. Say no one.
There are also concerns about another bird, the Peske parrot. This parrot has unique red and black feathers worn in traditional costumes for indigenous rituals.
“These bright red feathers are highly regarded as headdresses,” said Brett Smith, curator of the Port Moresby Nature Park. He added that it seems to have many feathers. bird..
Biologists want to involve more Papua New Guineans in their protection.
However, in the face of poverty, lack of education and low awareness of the potential impacts humans have on the environment have proven difficult.
But there is a success story.
As headhunting in pig-nosed habitats diminished, more people came in and rare creatures became part of the local diet, said Yolarnie Amepou, director of the Piku Biodiversity Network. increase.
However, by involving local children in the protection of major species, they have created a generation (now adults) that invests in the survival of pig-nosed turtles. Hunting has become easier.
She said, “This environment is what they depend on every day. If we want to save turtles, we have to fix people.”
© 2021 AFP
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