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Tenkile conservation program
Protecting wildlife through community development in Papua New Guinea
Zoos Victoria is the major partner of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance in the Torricelli Mountains of Papua New Guinea. The community-based program takes an integrated approach, coupling local community development with biodiversity conservation.
The flagships of this program are two critically endangered tree-kangaroo species: the Tenkile or Scottís Tree-kangaroo, Dendrolagus scottae, and Weimang or Golden-mantled Tree-kangaroo, Dendrolagus pulcherimus.
The conservation issue
Human populations in the Torricelli Mountains have tripled over the last 50 years. Such population growth in these hunter-gatherer societies, together with changes in traditional beliefs and hunting practices, has had a devastating effect on wildlife throughout the mountain ranges. By the late 1990s, the distribution of tree-kangaroos had declined by 70-80% and other wildlife had become locally extinct.
This loss of biodiversity is significant in its own right. Depleted wildlife populations have also led to reduced hunting success and consequently to protein deficiency in the local people, compromising their health and wellbeing.
Key program objectives
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance works closely with 42 villages on whose land the Tenkile and the Weimang occur to:
- Protect Tenkile and Weimang populations and habitat through hunting moratoriums and the establishment of a Conservation Area
- Implement alternative protein projects
- Develop local community capacity for sustainable natural resource management through awareness raising, education and training
- Monitor Tenkile, Weimang and other wildlife populations
- Monitor the social impacts of the program
- Protect rainforests through education and awareness raising.
Zoos Victoria’s role
This program was founded in 1998 in response to local community concerns with Zoos Victoria actively involved since its conception.
As Chair of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance Board, Zoos Victoria is responsible for overseeing and guiding the project’s direction and activities in close collaboration with field staff. Our core funding enables the Alliance to sustain program objectives.
Zoos Victoria’s support also includes securing external donor support, facilitating grant applications, advocacy and providing materials and technical advice (such as research expertise) to assist the biological monitoring component of the project.
- Hunting moratoriums established and maintained for Tenkile and Weimang, and signed by 42 villages
- Distance sampling suggests an increase in the wild Tenkile population from 150 to 307 since 1998
- Landholder agreements established with 42 villages for a Conservation Area within the Torricelli Mountains
- Increased sightings of tree-kangaroos as well as other wildlife such as Crowned Pigeons and Cassowaries
- Fourteen tree-kangaroo research sites established and maintained
- World-first birth of a Weimang in captivity at the main Tenkile Conservation Alliance base.
- Two Tenkile Conservation Alliance Bases established where training takes place for local villagers
- Local people trained and employed as project supervisors, officers, trainers and facilitators
- Management committees established in all villages; scientific knowledge and management training conducted for all committee members
- Significant capacity building implemented to ensure local ownership and management of Tenkile, Weimang and other wildlife, including a drama and role-play program.
Alternative livelihoods and community development
- Rabbit farms established in 39 villages, with increasing production success
- Fish and chicken farming projects underway, enabling villagers to improve their diets and reduce pressure on wildlife
- A Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program supported by a European Union Grant is currently being implemented. Water tanks and toilet installation has led to 30% reduction in women’s workload and nearly 70% reduction in incidence of diarrhoea.
Tenkile Conservation Alliance
Australian Volunteers International