Surf­ing with kanga

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

JUN­GLE Surf­ing tour guides have started study­ing the Ben­nett’s Tree Kan­ga­roo af­ter notic­ing an in­crease in sight­ings of the elu­sive mar­su­pial.

The ‘‘drop-bears’’ of the for­est have been spot­ted dur­ing the day­time at Cape Tribu­la­tion de­spite nor­mally be­ing most ac­tive at dusk and the evening.

Jun­gle Surf­ing tour guide Oliver O’Reilly said in the 10 years they have been in busi­ness, they had only ever seen one kan­ga­roo, un­til this year where they have been pop­ping up ran­domly.

‘‘In the past month we have seen them six times but we will see them in patches, they will be in the area for a few days then dis­ap­pear,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s pretty spe­cial see­ing them, we have had one walk past as we were eat­ing lunch, spot­ted two of them on a tour of 13 and oc­ca­sion­ally they have been run­ning up and down the tree right next to us.

‘‘What I found in­ter­est­ing is I don’t see them at night in the same piece of rain­for­est, but dur­ing the day we are see­ing heaps of them and they seem to be the same in­di­vid­u­als.’’

Jun­gle Surf­ing has de­cided to record their sight­ings and find sim­i­lar­i­ties by mon­i­tor­ing the weather con­di­tions, time of day, what they might be eat­ing and how many peo­ple are around.

‘‘Be­ing eco-tourism, we want to see what our im­pact is hav­ing, if any, on the rain­for­est an­i­mals and the rain­for­est,’’ Mr O’Reilly said.

‘‘It’s in­ter­est­ing the fact a shy an­i­mal orig­i­nally hunted by peo­ple is now com­ing into re­ally close prox­im­ity to the most ac­tive part of the canopy as far as peo­ple are con­cerned.

‘‘It’s weird to see them dur­ing the day, be­ing ac­tive and feed­ing with a lot of peo­ple around mak­ing lots of noise.’’

What fac­tors have led to this in­crease in sight­ings, in­clud­ing weather or the fact Jun­gle Surf­ing is lo­cated near a drink­able fresh­wa­ter creek and where the Ben­nett’s Tree Kan­ga­roos go when not check­ing out the Jun­gle Surfers, are ques­tions the tour guides are keen to find out.

But for now they will con­tinue to ob­serve and col­lect data on the rare mar­su­pial in the hopes of learn­ing more about th­ese cu­ri­ous crea­tures.

Pic­ture: JUN­GLE SURF­ING RAIN­FOR­EST CANOPY TOURS

HANG­ING AROUND: the Ben­nett’s Tree Kan­ga­roo

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