Cuscuses in West Papua

I thought some of you mammal watchers might like to see a couple of photos my friend Nick Cobb took while we were bird watching in West Papua in October 2014.

Waigeo Cuscus for Jon

Waigeo Cuscus

We saw the Waigeo Cuscus above, now a full species according to Iwein of Papua Expeditions, near Orobiai River Jungle Camp on the island of Waigeo, West Papua, on 8th October 2014. It was an hour or so after dawn when we spotted it and it was in the open canopy of a very large tree. The beauty moved very slowly, like a sloth.

Great Spotted Cuscus for Jon

Great Spotted Cuscus

We saw the Great Spotted Cuscus above near Papua Expeditions’ Muaib Jungle Camp in the northern lowlands of West Papua during the mid-afternoon on 19th October 2014. The surprisingly large animal, a beautiful orange colour, also moved about very slowly like a sloth and was also in the open canopy of a very large tree.

According to Iwein mammals are rarely seen on their tours, especially ones like ours which like most of their tours concentrated on finding the very elusive birds, but some of our crew were also fortunate enough to see a second Waigeo Cuscus nearer camp, we all saw a Striped Possum outside Kwau Village Guesthouse in the Arfak Mountains, and, near a ridge high above the guesthouse I was very pleased to see a dasyure; Narrow-striped according to Iwein, wandering over the forest floor. Papua Expeditions are highly recommended. They are a great little company run by Iwein, from Belgium, and his wife, Like (pronounced Leeka) from Indonesia, who lease, manage and aim to conserve tracts of forest in which we were the only visitors. They also employ a local guide called Mauritz, one of the most brilliant local guides I have ever had the pleasure to be in the field with. Without him we would have seen very few birds let alone mammals, most of the birds and mammals having been subject to hunting for a very long time and therefore extremely shy.

Nigel Wheatley


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