The populations of five species of Diprotodontia marsupials, one echidna, three bats, and several rodents face dire threats in Papua New Guinea, and as such have been classified as "Critically Endangered" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Species. Deforestation is the key factor contributing to habitat loss and consequent population dwindling. These species are on the verge of extinction, and so far, the country has put no measures to ensure their survival. Among the marsupials facing extinction is the critically endangered Black-spotted cuscus living in the undisturbed forests of Papua New Guinea. However, without some form of protection, the remaining few habitats will cease to be available driving this species to extinction. Other mammals facing similar danger are the Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna, New Guinea Big-Eared Bat, and Lowland Brush Mouse.
Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)
The Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna is a species in the Zaglossus Genus. The species distinguishing features include five claws found on fore legs, and four similar claws on its hind feet. It can weigh from 5 to 10 kilograms and has a body length of 60 to 100 centimeters. The species has dense black fur and when it is in danger. The Zaglossus bartoni is a critically endangered species in Papua New Guinea where it resides at altitude ranges of between 6,600 and 9,800 feet above sea level. It inhabits tropical forests, sub-alpine regions, scrub, and upland grassland. Dietary pattern of the eastern long-beaked echidnas consists of insects and earthworms. Zaglossus bartoni’s long snout allows it to scavenge for insects in cracks and hard-to-reach spaces. When threatened, this species forms a spiny ball. Like other members of Monotremata, this species lays eggs. It has a cloaca for passing urine and feces, and for the passage of sperms and egg lying. While deforestation is the leading factor for the decline of Zaglossus bartoni, humans form the main reason for their dwindling populations. So far, the species is enlisted in the Red List as a Critically Endangered Marsupial.
Black-Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus rufoniger)
The Black-spotted cuscus is a marsupial species of the Phalangeridae Family. The adult Spilocuscus rufoniger species weighs about six-seven kilograms and has a body length of 120 centimeters. The species has red and black colored fur which appears dense and woolly. The female members of the species are bigger with more uniformly dark coloration. The undersized are yellow and white in both sexes. The Black-spotted cuscus has a round head and short but pointed snout. Also, it has four teats and anteriorly reformed pouch for carrying neonates. This species uses its tail primarily for grasping. The front claws appear arched, a behavioral adaptation to its climbing behavior. The hind toes grasp branches and objects during movement. This species is endothermic exhibiting arboreal habits. They are predominantly solitary creatures, feeding and nesting individually. The species reproduce via sexual reproduction. It is viviparous. The mother performs nursing and protects her altricial neonates. Black-spotted cuscus is an omnivore feeding on small animals, fruits, nuts, and leaves. Spilocuscus rufoniger is endemic to Papua New Guinea where it leaves in the undisturbed environments of the lower montane, primary and tropical forests or lowland brushwood in elevations of no more than 1200 meters. Human disruption is the leading cause for the species critically endangered status. So far, there are no parks or reserves in the country to conserve and protect this species though a management area exists to address this species current status.
New Guinea Big-Eared Bat (Pharotis imogen)
The New Guinea Big-Eared Bat is an indigenous species in Papua New Guinea, currently classified as a critically endangered bat species as a result of ongoing habitat loss. It has a subtle population, and its distribution range is also small and is continuously declining. So far, Pharotis Imogene is known from a rapidly disappearing species of southeastern Papua New Guinea. It tends to prefer regions below 100 meters above sea level. It lives communally in the lowland sclerophyll woodlands region of the country.The species is small with a brown background. It has large disproportional ears joined at the base. The snout is also short, and it has a horseshoe-shaped nose. The species presumably feeds on insects like beetles. It is unknown whether it roosts in caves or trees and even the general habitat remains unknown for certain. However, it is presumed to dwell in savanna woodlands or lowland rainforests. Human encroachment on its habitat remains the central cause of the species habitat loss. The Kamali District primarily stretches deep into the species habitat ranges. Other threats include forests fires and firewood collection. There are no records of any protective or conservative measures put forward to protect this species from the possible extinction it currently faces.
Lowland Brush Mouse (Pogonomelomys bruijni)
The Lowland brush mouse is rodent species belonging to the Muridae Family. This mouse lives Papua Guinea in the province of Papua. The species is presumed to live in an altitude of just a few hundred meters above sea level. This species has a relatively limited habitat range. So far, Lowland brush mouse is a critically endangered species from habitat destruction and continued degradation. The species exhibit a hole-nesting characteristic depending heavily on tree-holes for survival. Other threats contributing to the dwindling of the species population are logging and increased human encroachment. It is an arboreal creature preferring to live in the lowland tropical forests. It is unknown whether the species exists in any protected areas.
Conservation Efforts for Papuan Mammals
Papua New Guinea may need to establish more protective areas such as national parks wherein these critically endangered mammals can benefit from some form of protection. Otherwise, continuous habitat loss result from deforestation and other types of human encroachment might drive these species and much more to extinction.
|Critically Endangered Mammals of Papua New Guinea||Scientific Name|
|Telefomin Cuscus||Phalanger matanim|
|Black-Spotted Cuscus||Spilocuscus rufoniger|
|Northern Glider||Petaurus abidi|
|Black Dorcopsis||Dorcopsis atrata|
|Long-Footed Water Rat|
Fly River Water Rat
|Lowland Brush Mouse||Pogonomelomys bruijni|
|Eastern Shrew Mouse||Pseudohydromys murinus|
|Bulmer's Fruit Bat|
Bougainville Monkey-Faced Bat
New Guinea Big-Eared Bat
|Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna||Zaglossus bartoni|