Spending Time with Tree Kangaroos

Posted: November 25, 2014

What an amazing past couple of weeks it has been here at the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies! Right now, we are in the middle of our Directed Research (DR) projects. The past two weeks we were doing data collection, and the Natural Resource Management, Socioeconomics, and Rainforest Ecology groups were all going in different directions measuring trees, traveling to indigenous communities, and spending time with tree kangaroos. We are in the write-up portion of DR’s now though, and its nice now to have everyone back together at the Centre.

Two other students and I are in the Rainforest Ecology group. We are doing our DR on Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos in the hopes of developing a standardized release protocol for tree kangaroos on the Atherton Tablelands. It’s pretty crazy imagining that three months ago I didn’t even know tree kangaroos exist! They are a beautiful animal–kind of a cross between a bear, cat, sloth, koala, squirrel, and a raccoon.

One of my fellow students describes them as “basically a kangaroo on a tree,” which is about the best description you can get. They are unlike any animal I have seen, climbing to insane heights, eating leaves, jumping between branches, swinging from vines, hopping across branches. They have so much personality and are so cute! As I write this blog post, I have one eye on footage we videotaped the past two weeks of Kimberly, a juvenile orphaned tree kangaroo, being released into the wild. It is very neat watching all the videos we took the past couple of weeks and how much she improved every day. Kimberly has done amazing! She is starting to move like a tree kangaroo! Some of the branches she jumps between are quite far away from each other, and we all find ourselves holding our breaths watching her just soar through the air and land on the branch.

I can’t believe how quickly time here has flown by. I have fallen in love with this place. The people of Far North Queensland are about some of the most down to earth, wonderful people. The animals here just capture your imagination and make you smile, from the little pademelons to the magnificent pythons. It’s hard to imagine not waking up every morning to everyone and just laughing throughout the entire day about anything and everything. And the trees, there is something about the trees swaying in the wind, providing space for so many animals, just existing in all their beauty. This place and the people here have seriously made me a better, happier human being. I guess rainforests will do that to you. Cheers!