25 September, 2008

Changing of the Guard

Photo copyright Eric Preston
Lots of disruption happening with the Tree-kangaroos at my site recently but one thing sneaked under my guard. This male Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo is superficially similar to Joan, a three and a half year old female who remained with her mother, Jill. At some stage I have started calling him "Joan" and not realised my mistake. When a strange female turned up, first near Jill's territory and then in it I wondered what was going on. That "Joan" was spending a lot of time near the new animal seemed really strange to me. Why would either of them tolerate the other if they were not closely related.

Now it makes sense that the new dominant male should let the new female know that she was welcome but he was 'the man'.
One possible cause of the disruption is the work being done by National Parks to control some of the nasty weeds which have invaded the forest. Turbina corymbosa and Aristolochia elegans are two of the culprits. Turbina is eaten by all three species of arboreal foliovores but still overgrows trees, causing their death. After the cyclone it responded to the increase in light levels by germinating throughout much of the forest. It, along with other vines, proved an important food source as the trees had lost most of their leaves. Fallen vines continued to grow, feeding the animals. A strip of land to the west of the track we use is to be re vegetated this wet season which is great. I do wonder though how much the possums, pademelons and tree-roos will allow the small trees to grow.

Below is the best picture I have so far of the new female. She has a joey in the pouch which we have seen out on three occasions. She is not yet habituated on us but is more relaxed than when she first turned up and would woof at us at the least excuse. Tree-kangaroos have this breathy but voiced woofing alarm call. It may be a threat call but I have not observed enough behaviour between animals in the wild to tell. When heard the animals were usually moving away from me but they were directing their attention in my direction.

1 comment:

Tyto Tony said...

Gidday Alan,

Came on tree kangaroo wedged in low fork at Koombooloomba years ago. Much woofing at me. Suggests threat behaviour, tho laughably ineffective.
Zoomed quietly up nearby tree after freeing itself.