(Jun 5, 2007)


Rare kangaroos to return to forest in Indonesia



From Reuters


JAKARTA, Jun (Reuters) - Seventeen endangered miniature kangaroos are being returned to their native habitat in the forests of Indonesia's remote Papua province, an official from the country's forestry ministry said on Tuesday.

The tiny creatures, a rare species of kangaroo called dusky pademelons, were rescued from homes in Java island where they were kept as pets, Adi Susmianto said by telephone.

The kangaroos, which have browny grey coats and a pale belly, will undergo a period of rehabilitation before release into the Nayaro forests, a protected area just hours away from Timika town.

"They will arrive in Timika this afternoon and will undergo rehabilitation first," the official said, adding that it would take a few months before the actual release.

The rescue centre in Sukabumi in West Java has six other dusky pandemelons it is still looking after.

They were seized by police from people's homes after they had been mostly purchased as pets at illegal animal markets, a rescue centre official said.

Little is known about the creatures, which weigh up to 18 kg (40 lb) and are about 75 cm (30 inches) long.

Their habitat is mainly in the forests of Papua island, made up of Indonesia's portion and Papua New Guinea.

Conservationists say the illegal trade in animals remains a threat to many species in Indonesia.

They say the quantity as well as variety of species traded has gone up in the past years, its scale hugely underestimated.




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