A rare tree kangaroo not seen for nine decades was spotted by an amateur botanist from the U.K. during a recent expedition, experts confirmed in a report published by National Geographic this week.
The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo is one of the most poorly known mammals on earth and has only been seen once before, in 1928.
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance previously reported that the species was likely extinct and, if not, only about 50 of the animals could left.
In an effort to establish the existence of the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo, Michael Smith from Farnham, England, led an expedition into the heart of the montane forests of New Guinea to track down the marsupial, NatGeo said.
On the last day of his trip in July, he finally came across the animal.
He described his first sighting of the kangaroo, recalling how “it was hiding there, peaking down at us, trying to hide,” according to The Sun.
“I was really rushing around. I couldn't quite get the photo. I was thinking calm down, this is a really, really rare species, it might be the last one.”
Smith managed to snap the photo and presented the evidence to experts, who confirmed it was the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo.
“The images are clear and reveal the distinctive coat color,” said Tim Flannery of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, who authored the book “Tree Kangaroos: A Curious Natural History,” according to NatGeo.
He said there was little doubt that the animal in Smith’s photo was the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo.
“All this just shows that you can find interesting things if you simply go and look,” Smith said. “On holidays over the years, I’ve discovered all kind of weird bits of archeology and ethnography. The general belief that there’s nothing more of interest to discover is quite mistaken.”
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