FIVE species of marsupials, an echidna, three bats and several rodents face extinction in Papua New Guinea and have been classified as critically endangered on the ‘red list’ of threatened species published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
And the main reason? Well, let’s say ‘greed’.
Diplomatically, IUCN says it’s due to “deforestation contributing to habitat loss and consequent population dwindling”.
So all these species are on the verge of extinction, and Papua New Guinea has no measures to ensure their survival. Well, of course not, the money’s in Cairns property.
Among the marsupials facing extinction are the black-spotted cuscus, the eastern long-beaked echidna, the New Guinea big-eared bat and the lowland brush mouse.
The eastern long-beaked echidna is a critically endangered species and is found at altitude between 2,000 and 3,000 metres. Its long snout allows it to scavenge for insects in cracks and hard-to-reach spaces. Like other members of this species, it lays eggs.
The black-spotted cuscus has a round head and a short, pointed snout. It is a predominantly solitary creature, feeding and nesting individually. It feeds on small animals, fruits, nuts, and leaves and lives at elevations of no more than 1,200 meters.
The New Guinea big-eared bat is classified as a critically endangered species as a result of habitat loss. It prefers regions below 100 meters and lives communally in woodland regions feeding on insects. Not much is known about this species, not even whether it roosts in caves or trees.
It may become extinct without us knowing much about it at all.
The lowland brush mouse is a critically endangered species from habitat destruction. It depends on tree-holes for survival. Logging and increased human encroachment in its preferred lowland tropical forests are wiping out the species.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says PNG wll need to establish more protective areas such as national parks so these critically endangered mammals can benefit from some form of protection.
Otherwise, continuous habitat loss result from deforestation and other types of human encroachment will drive these species, and many more, to extinction.