9 Sep 2009

Papaua New Guinea rat discovery prompt to amass conservation effort

8:15 pm on 9 September 2009

One of the scientists involved in the discovery of a giant rat in Papua New Guinea says it could be the prompt that's needed to mount a multilateral effort to conserve the world's remotest areas.

The almost metre-long, one and a half kilogram rodent was discovered in the crater of Mount Bosavi, an extinct volcano in the country's southern highlands.

Kristofer Helgen, part of the team that discovered the rat and a research zoologist and curator of mammals at the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, says the area is virtually unknown to people but that could change.

"On the very close fringes of this mountain there's a lot of activity, there's oil exploration, there's logging camps, there's a lot of pressures and you now right on that volcano there are animals that are found nowhere else, so it's those types of places we could really band together and perhaps without an enormous effort work to save because they are these limited areas that are so important"

Kristofer Helgen says scientific exploration in Papua New Guinea is only possible with the help of local people.