Meet our resident tree-kangaroos
Our home in tropical North Queensland is not only the source of our tea, it is also the home of one of Australia’s rarest creatures, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.
Such is our connection to these wonderful creatures that we like to think of them as our own extended family. They live in the trees outside the Visitor Centre on the Nerada Tea plantation. It’s certainly a major highlight if you visit our home – visitors can enjoy a scone and Devonshire tea, take in the beautiful vista of the tea fields and, if they’re lucky enough, look up and spot one of these magical creatures.
Back in 1991 the Russell family planted some trees outside the visitor centre when they lived on the Nerada plantation. It was the right tropical climate and it immediately attracted the tree-kangaroos from the nearby rainforest. When our plantation director Tony Poyner and his wife moved to the estate, they regularly started seeing the kangaroos from 1994 and it’s been a big part of our local story ever since.
We now have five different kangaroo neighbours – three adults and two joeys (two of whom are known as Billy and Misty). Have a look at how they interact in this short video.
What’s special about our Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos?
Classified as ‘near threatened’ under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act (1992) it’s often hard to spot tree-kangaroos in the wild. It’s even more rare to find so many Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos so close to each other. Typically, they are territorial animals and do not tolerate other tree-kangaroos in a small area.
We like to think that our family of kangaroos feels protected and safe in their habitat – the usual feral dog predators are not an issue and there is a plentiful supply of their favourite plants such as the umbrella tree and the giant white fig. While they are known to occasionally snack on the tea bushes, they much prefer their natural diet.
Tree-kangaroos are not creatures to get up and personal with (selfies really need to be snapped from afar), and it’s unusual to see these beautiful animals in the wild. They are rarely seen on the ground, but if you look closely in our trees you’ll often see them, especially from September to March. Remember, these are wild animals, so they are very shy.
Nerada is committed to protecting and conserving our tree-kangaroos. We’re proud to work alongside Dr Karen Coombes from Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre, winner of the Thorsborne Award (Cassowary) for conservation 2017. Dr Coombes often comes to check on the tree-kangaroos and we have a donation box in the factory-viewing platform to help care us for these animals.
Interesting tree-kangaroo facts:
According to the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, there are two species of tree-kangaroos only found in Australia – Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and Bennett’s tree-kangaroo.
- Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is the smaller of the two species and can be distinguished from Bennett’s tree-kangaroo by the light coloured band across the forehead and down the side of the face.
- Relative to body size, the tail of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is the longest of the kangaroo family. The tail can’t be used to grip branches, but is used for balance.
- When alarmed, tree-kangaroos may jump to the ground from heights of up to 15m.
- Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is named after the Norwegian naturalist-explorer, Dr Carl Lumholtz, who obtained a number of animals in the Herbert River in 1882. It was recorded at the time that the Aboriginal people called tree-kangaroos “Boongarry”.
- They spend 95% of their time in a tree – the only time when they are not in a tree is when they travel.
- The tree-kangaroo is Classified as Near threatened under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act (1992).
- Long-term viability will depend upon current and future impacts of loss of habitat, habitat connectivity, as well as mortality from vehicles, dogs, or disease.
- They are able to move their hind legs independently of each other, unlike kangaroos. This allows them to move throughout the canopy with ease while walking on thin branches. The tail is used as a counter balance, with broad, deep textured pads allowing for enhanced grip.
- Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos are NOT nocturnal, they are cathemeral; active day and night.
- Between the ages of two to three years, they leave their mothers and have to find their own trees.
Where else can you see them?
Many zoos throughout Australia have tree-kangaroos. However, a vast majority of the tree-kangaroos are a species called Goodfellows, which are native to Papua New Guinea and not Australia. Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos are only found in Far North Queensland. With the exception of visiting us at Nerada Tea, you can also see these creatures at:
Dreamworld Gold Coast has a family of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos, which gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal in the first and only Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo interactive guest experience. Guests will be invited into the tree-kangaroo enclosure with a specially trained keeper to have a close encounter with these remarkable creatures.
The Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation also works to help preserve these remarkable creatures
Other great spots include:
- Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
- David Fleay Nature Park
- Currumbin Gold Coast
- Malanda Falls Visitor Centre is a source of spotting these creatures, but it’s a rare appearance
How can you help ensure the sustainability of these remarkable animals?
There’s a number of ways that you can get involved, such as adopting a roo through www.treeroorescue.org.au.
May 19 to 27, 2018 is Tree-Kangaroo Awareness Week. If you are around Malanda pop by the Malanda Markets on May 19. There’s a fabulous raffle run via their Facebook page with great prizes on offer, kids’ face painting and merchandise for sale.
… and remember these animals are often out – day and night – so keep an eye out for them when you are driving