Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Due to the inaccessibility of New Guinea's remote mountain forests (5), little is known about the biology and ecology of the dingiso. However, like other tree kangaroos, it is likely to be an agile animal, which can move quickly from tree to tree, leap as far as nine metres downwards to a neighbouring trunk, and jump to the ground from heights of 18 metres or more, without sustaining injury (2). Although primarily inhabitants of the trees, tree kangaroos are also comfortable on the ground. They descend tree trunks backwards, and move along the ground with small leaps (2). Active during both the day and night, tree kangaroos feeds on leaves and fruit, which they forage for in the trees and on the rainforest floor (2). Like other tree kangaroos, the dingiso is likely to have no defined mating season and probably gives birth to a single young after a gestation period of around 32 days (2). In common with all macropods (the kangaroos and wallabies), tree kangaroos give birth to tiny and highly undeveloped young. The eyes, hindlimbs and tail are barely formed and only the forelimbs are sufficiently developed, allowing the hairless young to climb up its mother's fur into the safety of her pouch. The pouch provides a warm, humid environment where the juvenile, unable to regulate its own temperature, attaches itself to one of its mother's teats, and feeds on the nutritious milk as it grows and develops (3). In captivity, a young tree kangaroo emerged from its mother's pouch after 305 days (2). Local Moni tribesmen have described how when approached, the dingiso sits up, whistles and raises its paws as if greeting. Although thought by scientists to be a threat display, the Moni believed that the dingiso was the spirit of an ancestor who recognised them (5).
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Description

Discovered as recently as 1994, the dingiso is a tree kangaroo, a group of animals that, like their well-known relatives in Australia, have long tails, well-developed hindquarters and move both hindfeet at the same time in a distinctive gait (2) (3). However, unlike the kangaroos of Australia, tree kangaroos are, as their names suggests, adapted to living in trees. The soles of the dingiso's large feet bear cushion-like pads covered with roughened skin which, in combination with the curved nails, provide proficient grip on tree trunks and branches (2). The long, furry tail helps the dingiso balance as it moves through the trees, as well as bracing the animal as it climbs (2). The fairly long fur of the dingiso is largely black, apart from distinct white markings on the underparts and face (2). Female dingisos can be easily distinguished by the presence of a pouch on the abdomen, where the young grow and develop as they suckle milk from one of the four mammae (2). The scientific name of the dingiso is derived from two Greek words: dendron meaning tree and lagos meaning hare. The latter word came from European scientists in the 19th century who, whilst sailing through the region, tasted the flesh of a tree kangaroo and believed it to be reminiscent of the meat of hares (4).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to the island of New Guinea, where it is restricted to the Tembagapura and Kwiyawagi mountains of Papua Province, Indonesia. It is found between 2,700 and 3,500 m asl.
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Range

The dingiso is known only from the Sudirman Mountains, a rugged range situated in Irian Jaya, the Indonesian part of New Guinea (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This is a sub-alpine species. It is present in upper montane low mossy forest or scrub type habitats, usually above 2,700 m. It is largely a terrestrial species that is found in rugged areas. These are very docile animals.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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An inhabitant of mountainous rainforest, the dingiso occurs between 3,250 and 4,200 metres above sea level (2).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Leary, T., Seri, L., Wright, D., Hamilton, S., Helgen, K., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Allison, A., James, R., Dickman, C., Aplin, K., Flannery, T., Martin, R. & Salas, L.

Reviewer/s
Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Endangered because of an ongoing, drastic population decline, suspected to be more than 50% over the last three generations (i.e., 30 years), due to increasing human activities (agriculture and hunting). The western-most parts of the population are currently secure because of traditional beliefs, but if those change, the species could very quickly slip towards extinction. Climate change also poses a long-term threat for this sub-alpine species; already the climate changes are allowing different agricultural practices.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population
It is a very rare species.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It is threatened by hunting for food in parts of its range. In the western parts of the range the species is still protected by tradition, but in the eastern parts it has undergone major declines due to increasing human population and loss of habitat. Climate change also poses a long-term threat for this sub-alpine species; already the climate changes are allowing changes in agricultural practices.
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When Dr Tim Flannery discovered the dingiso in 1994, he gave it the scientific name mbaiso meaning 'forbidden animal' in the local Moni language. Although Moni tribesmen do not hunt the dingiso due to their belief that these are ancestral spirits, it was hoped that this name would deter neighbouring people, who do not hold these beliefs, from hunting this marsupial (5). Sadly, whilst information relating specifically to the dingiso is lacking, tree kangaroos across New Guinea appear to be declining (4). Tree kangaroos are suffering from flourishing human populations and increased efficiency of hunters, aided by steel axes, bush knives, modern firearms and a rise in the number of roads by which they can access more remote forest (4). The low reproductive rate of tree kangaroos makes them highly vulnerable to a situation where the number of deaths due to hunting may outnumber births (4). In addition to hunting, the tree kangaroos of New Guinea are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation. Although the rainforests of this vast island are not as devastated as elsewhere in Asia, logging is still highly destructive to the land's biodiversity and this damaging industry continues to expand (4). Finally, global climate change may impact the montane forests in which the dingiso lives. A period of unprecedented dry weather in 1997 to 1998 resulted in huge areas of New Guinea forests being burnt, illustrating the significant effect climate change could have on the fauna and flora of these magnificent forests (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is not present in any protected areas. It is protected from hunting in parts of its range by traditional beliefs. Further studies are needed into the distribution, abundance, natural history, and threats to this species.
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Conservation

At present, there are no known conservation measures specifically in place for the dingiso. However, conservation organisations are working to protect and preserve the remarkable wildlife of New Guinea, such as WWF, which aims to promote responsible forestry and improved protected area management (6). As the Indonesian government does not have abundant resources to deal with conservation issues, it may be down to western nations to implement conservation initiatives for the dingiso and other fascinating tree kangaroos (4).
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Wikipedia

Dingiso

The dingiso /dɪŋˈɡz/, also known as bondegezou (Dendrolagus mbaiso), is a species of tree-kangaroo native and endemic to Western New Guinea of Indonesia, where it lives in alpine forests in the Sudirman Range at elevations of 3250 to 4200 m, just below the tree line.

It was first filmed for the BBC documentary South Pacific in 2009 after 11 days searching with local Moni tribesmen.

Description[edit]

The dingiso has a distinctive pattern of black and white fur; it has a white belly, and a black head, back and limbs. Unlike other tree kangaroos, it spends little time in the trees.

The species epithet, mbaiso, means "the forbidden animal" in Moni. It remains common in the west because of the protection conferred on it by the Moni people. For many Moni, it is an ancestor which must never be harmed.

The dingiso was formally described to science in 1995 by Australian Museum zoologist Tim Flannery, Indonesian zoologist Boeadi and Australian anthropologist Alexandra Szalay.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 60. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ Leary T, Seri L, Wright D, Hamilton S, Helgen K, Singadan R, Menzies J, Allison A, James R, Dickman C, Aplin K, Flannery T, Martin R & Salas L (2008). Dendrolagus mbaiso. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2008-10-15. Listed as Critically Endangered (CR A2cd v3.1)
  3. ^ Flannery, T. F., Boeadi, and A. L. Szalay. (1995). A new tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus: Marsupialia) from Irian Jaya, Indonesia, with notes on ethnography and the evolution of tree-kangaroos. Mammalia 59:1 65-84.
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