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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 7) – A team of Papua New Guinea and international field scientists have uncovered new and little-known species of plants and animals inhabiting the Mount Kaijende highlands in Enga Province.

[PIR editor’s note: Enga includes the Western Highlands region of central Papua New Guinea.]

The discoveries, during a three-week field survey in August and September, include new species of plants, frogs and mammals. In addition, the scientific team recorded other species of plants, mammals, birds and frogs from Enga Province for the first time.

"Papua New Guinea is remarkable for its richness of plants and animals and many sites are under-surveyed but Mount Kaijende highlands region is amazing in its abundance of previously undocumented flora and fauna," said Stephen Richards, a herpetologist from the South Australian Museum and leader of an eight-member survey team. "It is something of a Lost World."

The Mount Kaijende highland is a rugged 800square-kilometer upland plateau studded with high peaks exceeding 3,500 meters. Although crisscrossed by traditional walking tracks and visited occasionally by hunters in search of game, the area is uninhabited and rich in wildlife. It features montane forests, highland lakes, alpine grasslands and elfin woodlands, with striking scenic beauty. It also serves as an important rainfall catchment for a series of populous valleys in Enga and Southern Highlands provinces.

The field survey sought to generate comprehensive species lists for plants, birds, mammals and frogs.

December 8, 2005

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