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A Bennett’s tree kangaroo stands poised to jump from a freshwater mangrove at Shiptons Flat, part of the Daintree Rainforest, QLD. Bennett’s tree kangaroos are rare, with a small range, and are incredibly difficult to find as they are experts at blending into rainforest canopy.
Roger Martin (right) is a James Cook University ecologist and the world authority on Bennett’s tree kangaroos. Along with expert tracker and local farmer Charlie Roberts (left) and Bana Yarralji Bubu ranger Peter ‘Alwyn’ Henry, Roger assisted in locating rare Bennett’s tree kangaroos, which were filmed for Australian Geographic by expert photographer Bill Hatcher.
Close relatives of rock wallabies, tree kangaroos have evolved to live in the trees and can seem more similar in habits and appearance to monkeys than their kangaroo relatives.
As recently as the 1960s Bennett’s tree kangaroos were restricted to peaks such as Mt Misery and Mt Poverty, south of Cooktown, QLD – but as hunting by indigenous groups has subsided they have increased in number and are now increasing their range.
Australia has two species of tree kangaroo, but another 15 species and subspecies – such as this Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo – are found across the Torres Strait in New Guinea.
Tree kangaroos are adept at climbing; they can move their hind legs independent to one another and walk backwards – an action terrestrial kangaroos cannot perform. Here, a Lumholtz’s roo at the Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre, in Malanda on the Atherton Tableland, is still learning to climb.
On the Atherton Tableland Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos are often hurt in collisions with cars.
Margit Cianelli, who runs the Lumholtz Lodge B&B near Atherton, cares for injured tree roos and hand rears orphaned pouch young.
Goodfellows tree kangaroos – such as this animal, which is part of a conservation breeding program at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo – are prized as food in Papua New Guinea. They are also used in traditional wedding payments, and their fur is hunted for ceremonial costume. Sadly, most tree kangaroos are gravely endangered.
An orphaned Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo at the Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre in Malanda, QLD.
A Bennett’s tree kangaroo shows off its climbing skills at Shiptons Flat, south of Cooktown.
The Bana Yarralji Bubu logos worn by Aboriginal rangers on Kuku Nyungkal country at Shiptons Flat have a tree kangaroo proudly emblazoned on them.
Atherton wildlife carer Margit Cianelli has a blinded Lumholtz’s tree roo called Dorothy permanently in her care.
An adult Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo at the Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre in Malanda. Tree kangaroos raise their young in a pouch as do all other marsupials.
Bennett’s tree kangaroos are incredibly difficult to spot in the canopy even when you have expert trackers on hand – often they are more than 50m up in the rainforest canopy.
Mushrooms are part of the great variety of life found in the Daintree Rainforest of far north Queensland.
Bennett’s tree kangaroos are highly territorial and will fight violently with other tree kangaroos that encroach on their territory.
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