6 Jun 2007

Endangered kangaroos returned to Papua

7:27 pm on 6 June 2007

Seventeen endangered miniature kangaroos are being returned to their native habitat in the forests of Indonesia's Papua province.

The tiny creatures, which are a rare species of kangaroo called dusky pademelons, were rescued from homes in Java island where they were kept as pets.

They had been mostly purchased as pets at illegal animal markets.

Indonesia's forestry ministry says the kangaroos will undergo a period of rehabilitation in Timika before release into the Nayaro forests, a protected area just hours away from the Papua town.

Little is known about the creatures, which weigh up to 18kg and are about 75cm long with browny grey coats and a pale belly,

Their habitat is mainly in the forests of Papua and Papua New Guinea.

Conservationists say the illegal trade in animals remains a threat to many species in Indonesia.