The extinction of species is a phenomenon that has existed all throughout history, and it is well known that the ever increasing human population is only accelerating this process.For around 50 years, the New Guinea Highlands wild dog had been considered extinct; with no animals observed in the wild, or in captivity, the breed became the rarest, and oldest in the world.
In 2016, an expedition led by biologist, James K Mcintyre, member of the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation(NGHWDF), set off to investigate the elusive dog. With the help of research staff from Papouasie University in Indonesia, the researcjer made a huge discovery in September 2016: a pawprint.Encouraged by this extremely promising information, the team placed multiple surveillance cameras in the area, in the hopes of uncovering the dog's secrets.In only two days, they captured 140 images of New Guinea Highland wild dogs at the summit of mount Puncak Jaya. So, a team of around 15 scientists set off to explore the difficult and hostile area.
Reports of sightings of these animals have existed since 2005, but there had never been any proof, and so they hadn't been taken seriously. However, the presence of the rare dog has now been formally documented.DNA analysis of excrement has confirmed the similarities between the New Guinea Highlands wild dog, the New Guinea Singing dog and the Australian dingo.[caption id="attachment_20061" align="alignnone" width="660"]
Australian dingo Source: BBC[/caption]The NGHWDF explainsthe impact of this discovery:
The scientific and historical importance of the highland wild dog remains critical to understanding canid evolution, canid and human co-evolution and migrations, and human ecology and settlement derived from the study of canids and canid evolution.
The 'rediscovery' of this wild dog has given scientists hope for other species assumed to be extinct. For example, in March 2017, a team of scientists from James Cook University in Australia installed a video surveillance camera on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.
Their goal was to find the Tasmanian tiger, which has been extinct since 1936. The species was a large carnivore that had been hunted by settlers and then fell victim to an extermination campaign in the 1830s, meaning that they were only present for around 100 years.
However, there are reports of their presence in Australia, and whilst some of these may be fake, there could just be some truth to others.
Sandra Abell explains that, even if these tigers aren't spotted, the cameras will definitely allow scientists to learn more about lesser known species, in order to help protect and conserve them, and ultimately prevent them from becoming extinct.
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