Photos: Two unknown mammal species discovered in "lost world"
December 16, 2007
"It's comforting to know that there is a place on earth so isolated that it remains the absolute realm of wild nature," said CI Vice President Bruce Beehler, who led the expedition. "We were pleased to see that this little piece of Eden remains as pristine and enchanting as it was when we first visited."
Ornate Fruit-Dove in Foja Mountains, western New Guinea, Indonesia. Photo by Bruce M Beehler
Martua Sinaga holds this 1.4 kg giant rat that is probably a species new to science. Foja Mountains, western New Guinea, Indonesia. Photo by Bruce M Beehler
"The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat," said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. "With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip."
According to CI, the Indonesian Government has declared the Foja Wilderness a National Wildlife Sanctuary and may seek carbon credits for protecting the forest area. Yesterday delegates at the U.N. climate meeting in Bali agreed that carbon-for-forest conservation initiatives should be developed and promoted as a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, deforestation account for roughly 20 percent of anthropogenic climate-warming emissions.
A probable new species of pygmy possum in the genus Cercartetus(Pygmy Possum). Foja Mountains, western New Guinea, Indonesia. Photo by Bruce M Beehler
"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler.
New Guinea's forests are some of the most biodiverse in the world, but they are increasingly under threat from commercial logging. However, the Foja Mountains of western New Guinea are so isolated — in the furthest reaches of the Indonesian province of West Papua - they remain relatively untouched. In other parts of Indonesia poaching is taking a heavy toll on wildlife populations.