Wildlife of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is home to almost 7 percent of the world’s biodiversity, with more than 200 species of mammals and 700 species of birds, along with 21,000 species of plants.

Papua New Guinea (WSC)

The tropical islands of Papua New Guinea —which encompass the eastern half of New Guinea and a surrounding archipelago—lie between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, just below the Equator and northwest of Australia. The country’s large expanses of pristine habitat and high levels of biodiversity, coupled with its low human population and indigenous peoples with strong regard for land ownership provide rare conservation opportunities. PNG encompasses some of the world’s last great tracts of mature tropical rainforest and largest coral reefs. These forest and marine ecosystems, combined with a unique array of species that have evolved here in isolation, have made Papua New Guinea one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots.

Biodiversity protection efforts in Papua New Guinea

The State of the Forests in Papua New Guinea

Geography of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is part of the Australasia ecozone, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, eastern Indonesia, and several Pacific island groups, including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Geologically, the island of New Guinea is a northern extension of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, forming part of a single landmass Australia-New Guinea (also called Sahul or Meganesia). It is connected to the Australian segment by a shallow continental shelf across the Torres Strait, which in former ages had lain exposed as a land bridge — particularly during ice ages when sea levels were lower than at present.

Consequently, many species of birds and mammals found on New Guinea have close genetic links with corresponding species found in Australia. One notable feature in common for the two landmasses is the existence of several species of marsupial mammals, including some kangaroos and possums, which are not found elsewhere. Many of the other islands within PNG territory, including New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, the Admiralty Islands, the Trobriand Islands, and the Louisiade Archipelago, were never linked to New Guinea by land bridges, and they have their own flora and fauna, in particular they lack many of the land mammals and flightless birds that are common to New Guinea and Australia.

WWF | New Guinea

Few places on earth rival the diversity of New Guinea, and it has been said that the island “contains more strange and new and beautiful natural objects than any other part of the globe.” The largest and highest tropical island in the world, New Guinea is split between the countries of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the east and the Indonesia province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) in the west.

The island is blessed with remarkably diverse forests that are home to a rich variety species and cover about 65 percent of the land area of New Guinea. In fact, New Guinea has the largest remaining intact block of tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific region and is the largest tropical rain forest after the Amazon and the Congo. The island’s coastal systems contain some of the most pristine and largest tracts of mangroves in the world, while the lowlands and mountain areas contain as much as 124 million acres of tropical forests, notable for their highly rich island plant and animal life, much of which exists nowhere else in the world.

Papua’s lost world Stunning new species from the unexplored island

Fanged frogs and giant rats found in remote Papua New Guinea

A team of biologists and filmmakers from the BBC have found strange spiders, a rat the size of a cat and a frog with fangs co-habiting in a pristine giant volcano in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Frog that changes colour revealed

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