2013 Conservationist of the Year: Jim and Jean Thomas
IT WAS 1996 WHEN Melbourne zookeeper Jim Thomas heard that an unusual species of tree kangaroo was headed for extinction.
In 2003, Jim and his wife Jean moved to PNG’s remote Toricelli Mountains, an area of dense rainforest lacking basic infrastructure and only accessible by plane. After learning some of the local language, the couple began to work to improve the lives of local villagers.
By teaching them to rear animals such as chickens and rabbits for food, they encouraged 20 villages to cease hunting the tenkile tree kangaroo. A decade later, the tenkile population is thought to have increased to more than 300.
Other rare species are benefiting from this increased awareness of the environment.