Ursine tree-kangaroo facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsUrsine tree-kangaroo
|Ursine tree-kangaroo range|
The ursine tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus ursinus) is a species of marsupial in the family Macropodidae. It is endemic to the Vogelkop and possibly the Fakfak Peninsulas, West Papua, Indonesia. Other common names for this species include the black tree-kangaroo, the Vogelkop tree-kangaroo and the white-throated tree-kangaroo. It is threatened by habitat destruction and is listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
This tree-kangaroo grows to a head-and-body length of 50 to 82 cm (20 to 32 in) with a tail of 40 to 94 cm (16 to 37 in), and a weight of up to 8 kg (18 lb). The upper parts are glossy black while the underparts are fawn. There is a whitish collar and throat, and the face is brown with white or red cheeks. The ears are distinctive, being long and tufted. The long fur is whorled on the shoulders, a pattern which is thought to help carry excess rainwater away from the head. Compared to terrestrial kangaroos, the limbs are short, with broad feet, well-roughened soles and curled claws for climbing. The tail is long and tipped with white and is used as a counterbalance.
Distribution and habitat
Endemic to the island of New Guinea, the species is present on the Vogelkop Peninsula in the far northwest of the island and possibly also the Fakfak Peninsula in West Papua. It occurs in tropical forests at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,500 m (3,300 and 8,200 ft).
The ursine tree-kangaroo is nocturnal, solitary and lives mainly in trees, though it can descend to the ground where its gait is bipedal, hopping rather clumsily on its hind legs. It is much more agile among the branches of trees, where it feeds on fruit and leaves. Breeding is thought to take place at any time of year. Being a marsupial, a tiny neonate is born about thirty days after conception, and wriggles through the fur of the mother's abdomen to the pouch. Here it attaches to a nipple and develops for about three hundred days.
D. ursinus has a very limited range and is declining in numbers; the population is thought to have diminished by at least 30% within the last three generations (thirty years). The two main threats it faces are habitat destruction as forests are cleared to provide farming land, and hunting by indigenous peoples for food. Historically, it used to be present in lowland forests, but now it only occurs in mountain forests. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being "vulnerable".
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