Tenkile Tree Kangaroo

about TCA


TCA’s vision is for the people of Papua New Guinea to value and protect their natural resources, communities and cultures in the context of advancing the overall well being of their communities and their places.


TCA's mission is to:

  • Provide urgent and necessary services to rainforest communities in Papua New Guinea that result in the relief of poverty and improve health.
  • Facilitate processes that provide opportunity for rainforest communities in Papua New Guinea to govern, manage and protect their biological and cultural richness from exploitation.
  • Implement a bottom up approach to achieving all of TCA’s goals and objectives. To ensure rainforest communities are enabled with their own freedom of choice, as they advance into the 21st century, working towards self-determination of their communities.

TCA’s Ultimate Goal

The Ultimate Goal of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance is: to improve health, provide education and so relieve poverty as well as protect biodiversity and the cultures of rainforest communities in Papua New Guinea.

Underpinning the primary goal are five objectives with clear activities or projects to be delivered in order to move towards achieving our ultimate goal. These are detailed below.


Objective 1:

Develop alternate livelihood strategies within rainforest communities to alleviate poverty and hunger to improve health as well as minimise the existing hunting pressure on wildlife, enabling the sustainable use of their natural resources.
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Objective 2:

Develop sustainable sources of income for the organisation and local stakeholders. Complementing the organisation’s mission, benefitting the people of Papua New Guinea and the sustainability of their communities and country. Papua New Guineans to successfully lead, manage and administer their own projects and organisations, with current, solid and transparent governance.
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Objective 3:

Establish the Torricelli Mountain Range as a legislated Protected Area to ensure the protection of all biodiversity and culture.
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Objective 4:

Implement a monitoring and evaluation program to assess the effectiveness of the above activities in conserving biodiversity within the Torricelli Mountain Range.
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Objective 5:

Participate in REDD + (Reduced Emissions from avoided Deforestation and Degradation) & PES (Payment for Environmental Services) - to combat global warming & climate change, relieve poverty and improve health.
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Community gardens

The Tenkile Conservation Alliance was originally established by a network of zoos, the PNG museum, local government and individuals that wanted to work towards the recovery of the critically endangered Scott’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae) locally known as Tenkile. A hunting moratorium was established with 13 villages in 1999 and this has grown to include 20 villages that have Tenkile on their land. A further 30 villages that have the critically endangered Weimang, or Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo, (Dendrolagus pulcherrimus) have also joined the Alliance and now comprises over 12,000 people.

It was quickly realised that in order to protect the tree kangaroos the TCA needed to work very closely with the local communities that hunted the animals for food. Alternative protein sources were established in the form of rabbit farming, chicken farming and fish farming. The TCA also realised that sustainable development and success of these projects required basic service delivery to the village communities. Since 2004 the TCA has delivered water, sanitation, hygiene and health projects throughout the 50 participating communities ‘providing tangible health benefits’.. TCA embeds training and capacity building activities into all of its programs to ensure long term sustainability and community ownership.

Community results include:

  • The successful breeding of rabbits in Tenkile Villages has led to two people being trained as "Rabbit farming trainers". These trainers have successfully completed rabbit training courses to 24 Weimang villages.
  • Complete handover of rabbit and chicken farming projects to local stakeholders. Leadership in rabbit farming identified (Vincent Kelele – Wigote Village) and supported by TCA as required.
  • Local capacity built with the training and supervision of 16 Project Officers to implement the Water, Sanitation and hygiene Project.
  • Successful installation of 350 x 1000 gallon Tuffa Tanks and 303 VIP toilets throughout 50 participating villages.
  • Successful implementation of ‘one toilet per household’ - a first for the country.
  • Delivery of Health and Hygiene Education Program to 50 villages including Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Participatory Health and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) and TCA’s own interactive HIV/AIDS and Family Planning awareness program.
  • Delivery of leadership and financial management training with local village level WASH committees.
  • Delivery of Water and Sanitation project management course focusing on managing attitudes and behaviour among participating communities to ensure project success.
  • Partnership with WaterAid (Australia) in place to continue improving water and sanitation throughout project area.
  • Local Project Supervisors employed and significant management responsibilities delegated to ensure future sustainability of TCA project management.
  • Significant improvements to TCA Base-Lumi including community accommodation, staff accommodation and research station.


Conservation in PNG

The island of New Guinea contains 7% of the world’s biodiversity and is the third largest expanse of tropical rainforest following the Amazon and Congo. The Torricelli Mountain Range, north-west Papua New Guinea (PNG), is unique in that it is the only place known that is home to three species of tree kangaroo, the Scott’s Tree Kangaroo (Tenkile), the Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo (Weimang) and the Grizzled Tree Kangaroo (Yongi). Other endemic species include the Black-spotted cuscus (PNG’s largest cuscus) and the Northern Glider. The Tenkile, Weimang, Black-spotted Cuscus and Northern Glider are all classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. The Torricelli’s, therefore have a high level of endemism and biodiversity significance.

The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), was originally established in 2001, to protect the unique biodiversity of the Torricelli Mountain Range; PNG. TCA uses the tree kangaroos as flagship species for achieving broad forest conservation outcomes with a main objective to establish this mountain range as a legislated Conservation Area.

Conservation results include:

  • Continuation of the hunting moratorium for all participating villages which has increased to 20 "Tenkile" Villages and 30 "Weimang" villages. There has been no significant hunting of any fauna within the Tenkile habitat since 2004 or in the Weimang habitat since 2007.
  • Landowner agreement to establish a Conservation Area within the Torricelli Mountain Range with the 20 Tenkile villages and 30 Weimang villages. All these villages have designated hunting areas from non-hunting areas and written their own rules and penalties for the long-term management of the area.
  • Establishment and maintenance of seven Tenkile research sites and seven Weimang research sites.
  • Training manual produced and workshops held to build capacity among local Research Officers and Distance Sampling Officers in point transect distance sampling techniques.
  • Significant capacity building implemented to ensure local ownership and management of Tenkile, Weimang and other wildlife in the research sites across the Torricelli Mountain Range. Since 2007 all scientific data was collected by TCA’s Research Officers and Distance Sampling Officers, independent of the TCA Director.
  • Preliminary results from Distance Sampling Research indicate a significant increase in the population of Tenkile. Approximately 160 (2004) to 307 (2008).
  • Initial work on camera trapping, since 2011, has recorded the three tree kangaroos, many mammals and birds. Some species recorded are new species to science.
  • Conservation Area Management Committees established in all Tenkile and Weimang villages and significant capacity building conducted for all committee members in scientific knowledge and natural resources management.
  • Community Conservation education programs conducted since 2003 – school visits, teacher training, puppet shows, radio programs, drama education programs have all been implemented throughout the project area, motivating and engaging thousands of people leading to the participation of 50 moratorium villages.



TCA has identified that the local communities are very much in tune with their environmental, social and economic needs. People know exactly what they want. The TCA has worked very closely with 50 village communities at the foothills of the Torricelli Mountain Range for over a decade. During this time we have developed a very strong relationship built on trust, integrity, transparency and accountability. At the heart of our work is an amalgamation and mutual respect of combining scientific and traditional knowledge. We work towards the protection of natural resources, building community cohesiveness and respecting traditional cultures within PNG.

Cultural change results include:

  • A sense of pride among communities – men cried when they saw the Tenkile photo taken from a camera trap and when the animals were seen on peoples land for the first time in 20 years.
  • Commitment from local communities – there has been no hunting of the Tree kangaroos for over a decade.
  • Village cohesiveness – communities have worked together despite prior disputes in order to deliver water tanks by foot into the villages.

This program is an outstanding model of how effective conservation outcomes may be achieved and assessed in developing communities when they are coupled with development of sustainable resource, economic and social alternatives.

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