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‘Extinct’ mountain dogs rediscovered in the wild

‘Extinct’ mountain dogs rediscovered in the wild
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A beautiful breed of dog, unseen in the wild for more than 50 years and presumed extinct, has been photographed alive and well in New Guinea – with puppies!

The New Guinea Highland wild dog was thought to be extinct

An ancient breed of wild dog, thought to have been extinct for 50 years, has been confirmed as thriving in a remote high altitude area of the island of New Guinea, new images have shown.

Missing-link between early dogs and modern domestic dogs The New Guinea Highland Wild Dog is a missing-link species between the first early dogs and the modern domestic animal. They are considered a living fossil. Source: Facebook/PositiveNewsNetworkTV

The breed is believed to be related to the Australian dingo

“The discovery and confirmation of the Highland Wild Dog for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting but an incredible opportunity for science,” says the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog FoundationUntil this recent discovery, there were only known to be about 200 of the animals living in captivity. The breed, believed to be related to the Australian dingo, was last seen in the wild 50 years ago. It was feared the dog had become extinct in its native habitat along New Guinea’s remote central mountain spine, but the foundation now has fecal samples for DNA analysis and images of the dogs photographed during an expedition in 2016.

The animals have been given names by the New Guinea Highland Wild Dogs Foundation “Two Socks” (left) joins “Lil Red” and “Markie” to investigate a scent bait. Source: Facebook/NGHWDF

The dog is the largest and only apex predator on the whole of New Guinea

In September 2016, scientists from the University of Papua, with logistical support from mining company PT Freeport Indonesia and in collaboration with the Southwest Pacific Research Foundation, found and documented a healthy population of Highland Wild Dogs in Papua, an Indonesia Province on the western side of the island of New Guinea.

The team took more than 100 photographs of at least 15 individuals, including males, females, and females with pups ranging in age from 3 to 5 months, living in isolated locations between 3700 metres and 4600 metres above sea level. 

The foundation says the dog is the largest and only apex predator on the whole of New Guinea.

Research is ongoing, but scientists are optimistic about the Highland Wild Dogs’ continuing survival.

You can read more about the expedition and discovery, along with photos, by clicking here.

Discrete cameras captured more than 140 images of wild Highland Wild Dogs in just two days on Puncak Jaya — the highest summit of Mount Carstensz, and the tallest island peak in the world.
The dog is seen as a critical missing link, having evolved free from selective breeding influences imposed by humans Discrete cameras captured more than 140 images of wild Highland Wild Dogs in just two days on Puncak Jaya — the highest summit of Mount Carstensz, and the tallest island peak in the world. Source: Facebook/NGHWDF

In addition to scavenged food it is thought the dogs have a varied diet

In addition to food scavenged from human refuse resulting from nearby mine activity, the following mammals were identified as inhabiting the study area and suggest possible prey items of the Highland Wild Dog;

  • Tree Kangaroo
    • Dingiso, (Dendrolagus mbaiso)
  • Cuscus
    • Silky, (Phalanger sericeus)
    • Ground, (Phalanger gymnotis)
    • Mountain, (Phalanger carmelitae)
  • Ringtail Possums
    • Coppery, (Pseudochirops cupreus)
    • Pygmy, (Pseudochirops mayeri)
  • Rats
    • Glacier Rat, (Stenomys richardsoni)
    • Arianus’s Rat, (Stenomys omlichodes)
    • Moss Forest Rat, (Stenomys niobe)
    • Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
    Though it’s yet to be confirmed, the highland wild dogs could make the same unusual vocalisations of their captive-bred counterparts — New Guinea singing dogs (below).

    It is not yet know whether they can sing like their cousins It is thought there are roughly 300 New Guinea “singing” dogs remaining in the world, living in zoos, private facilities, and private homes, and they’re known for their high-pitched howls, which they will perform in chorus with one another, and sometimes for several minutes at a time. Source: Youtube/DeniseWetzel
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