Was the New Guinea highland wild dog extinct? It would seem not. Researchers have finally confirmed the existence of a healthy, viable population hiding in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on earth.
The New Guinea Highland Wild Dog is a subspecies of gray wolf. It was originally a domestic dog that quickly returned to the wild. They are above all the oldest and most primitive canids in the world. Disappeared? Not quite. A recent expedition to the heart of the mountains of New Guinea revealed the presence of at least fifteen wild individuals a few days ago, including healthy males, females and young, in complete isolation, far from all human contact. .
» The discovery and confirmation of the presence of wild dogs in the highlands for the first time in more than half a century is not only exciting, but also an incredible opportunity for science. », rejoices one of the members of the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF). » The 2016 expedition will have made it possible to locate, observe, document and even collect biological samples confirmed by DNA tests, a pack of about fifteen specimens that live and develop in the highlands of New -Guinea, some 3,460 to 4,400 meters above sea level « . Fecal samples also confirmed their links to Australian dingoes and the singing dogs of novaGuinea, « variants » bred in captivity.
The camera traps installed on the site have notably made it possible to capture more than 140 images of these wild canids in just two days on Puncak Jaya, one of the highest mountains in the region. Here are some of those photos:
Physically, imagine this short-legged wild dog with a broad head, measuring an average of 31 to 46 cm in height and weighing between 9 and 14 kg. It also has two different coats: some specimens are black, others are red.
The study and the data peeling are still in progress, but a scientific paper on the discovery should be published in the coming months. The researchers say they are « optimistic » about the animal’s chances of survival in the highlands. Local mining companies have been instructed to take environmental stewardship actions to protect theecosystem surrounding their facilities, which means they have ‘inadvertently created a sanctuary in which these wild dogs could thrive‘, explains one of the researchers.