signboard of the entrance to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance base at Lumi
Photo by Mandy Glass

MAF flights enable the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) in PNG to protect rare tree kangaroos by supporting villagers to live sustainably.

Papua New Guinea’s tropical rainforest is the third largest in the world and home to extraordinary biodiversity, accounting for over 7% of the world’s total.

In the Torricelli Mountain Range of West Sepik Province, deep in the heart of this remote jungle environment, three threatened tree kangaroo species co-exist: the Tenkile (or Scott’s Tree Kangaroo), the Weimang (or Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo) and the Finsch’s (or Grizzled) Tree Kangaroo.

Weimang Tree Kangaroo

For the people in the Torricelli’s, living from the rainforest traditionally meant hunting and eating tree kangaroos. Hearing about these unique species and their threat of extinction, Australian conservationists Jim and Jean Thomas set out to save them from extinction. The Tenkile Conservation Alliance was founded.

We have to conserve our biodiversity for the future of our generations. In return, there are livelihood projects that the people benefit.
Caleb Bulu, TCA Project Manager

Today, TCA’s base at Lumi functions as an “epicentre for conservation and community development,” managed by local staff and international volunteers.

Grizzled Tree Kangaroo

Jim and Jean, who lead TCA from Australia, say MAF is essential to support their base at Lumi and their staff. In fact, all TCA projects greatly benefit from MAF.  

Conservationists Jean and Jim Thomas

“We have used the valuable service of MAF for more than 20 years, as we have been in operation in remote Lumi,” Jim said. “MAF has transported valuable cargo for us including live rabbits and chickens which provided an alternative protein source to rainforest communities and helped prevent the critically endangered Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos from becoming extinct. We cannot do it without you.”

In the circuit over Lumi airstrip

The Tenkile and Weimang are the most threatened species of tree kangaroos. The TCA aims to change that by maintaining and improving the established designated hunting and non-hunting zones within village land-use plans and boundary mapping, working with 50 villages, presently about 13,000 people.

We have used the valuable service of MAF for more than 20 years, as we have been in operation in remote Lumi.
Jim Thomas, Conservationists with TCA

Research Officer Benjamin Kalmbop checks on the species inhabiting the region on the Western part of the Torricelli villages and has recorded many significant species and also species not seen before.

“I go out into the forest getting data of every species, such as birds and mammals. During my patrol time up in the mountains at high elevation I’m looking for tree kangaroos, especially Grizzled and Weimang,” he said.

TCA Research Officer Benjamin Kalmbop

TCA Project Manager Caleb Bulu highlights the importance of TCA’s approach and MAF’s support.

“We have to conserve our biodiversity for the future of our generations. In return, there are livelihood projects that the people benefit within our catchment areas, like water tanks, tin roofs, fish and rice farming,” he said.

“Thank you to MAF the for the long service they've provided to us,” Caleb said. “MAF has given us a lot of service in times of emergency, in times of service delivery and cargo. Also MAF brings the post office service into the remote areas of this country. Thank you.”

TCA Project Manager Caleb Bulu
Photo by Mandy Glass
TCA Project Manager Caleb Bulu

Irene Sobin, a TCA Project Officer, is a frequent passenger with MAF as she supports the villagers implementing sustainable ways of living.

“I use MAF for the purpose of TCA projects, like to implement agriculture training, health and hygiene training in other conservation areas and to let people know about how we established things in Lumi,” she said. “MAF is easy to travel. It takes a short time and avoids other problems,” referring to robberies, hold ups, and the risk of accidents. 

TCA Project Officer Irene Sobin

Senior Project Officer Fidelis Nick is responsible for the villages in the Nuku District overseeing community development projects such as water tanks, water supply and housing.

“MAF has a big part working with us to make those things happen in the villages along the Torricelli Mountains,” he said. “So, thank you very much for MAF for providing more services to the rural part of the community to support the sustainable development in the villages.”

Senior Project Officer Fidelis Nick

In 2022 so far, MAF assisted with more than 12 flights supporting the Tenkile Conservation Alliance. MAF is committed to continue this partnership as part of our creation care mission mandate.


Story by Mandy Glass