Rare find of PNG wild dogs
For the first time in more than 50 years, researchers have confirmed the presence of New Guinea Highland wild dogs (HWD), living at high altitude at Puncak Jaya in Indonesia’s Papua Province.
The HWD, similar to the New Guinea Singing Dog, is possibly one of the rarest, most ancient canids currently living, says James McIntyre, the founder/director of field research for New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation, based in Florida in the US.
A canid is a lineage of carnivorans, which includes domestic dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals.
Mac says it is the apex predator of New Guinea and what many think is one of the most important canids in existence.
“The HWD may be the missing link species between the first early canids and the modern domestic dog.
“Discovering the dogs was pure elation,” McIntyre tells Paradise.
“It was the culmination of over 20 years trying, countless hours of preparation, and persistence to a point of never taking no for an acceptable answer.”
The researchers located tracks, two dens, a trail system used for travel, and other signs of the dogs.
Based on that evidence, along with reports from locals, trail cameras captured over 100 photographs of at least 15 dogs, including females with pups from three to five months old, living in isolated locations between 3700 and 4600 metres above sea level.
Many, if not most, indigenous New Guinea people and cultures have stories and traditions involving the HWD.
In some cultures, HWDs are highly prized hunting trophies, with their jaws and skulls displayed proudly.
“Today, the HWD is an invaluable national treasure and natural resource in its historic ecosystem and range, and we must strive to protect and conserve not only its history, but its future,” says McIntyre.
The next phase of this research will occur later this year, he says.
“This time we will attempt to live-capture individuals, immobilise them, conduct complete veterinary examinations, collect samples necessary for thorough DNA analysis, radio collar selected individuals, and release.
“DNA will be sequenced back in the States while we track the selected dogs’ travels learning about territories, den sites, and daily patterns – all from our computers at home.”
On the prowl … a New Guinea Highland wild dog.