The Port Moresby Nature Park (formerly the National Botanic Gardens), set on the outskirts of Papua New Guinea’s capital, is a great spot for those who, like me, are keen to espy some of PNG’s rare and elusive native fauna.
The grounds feature a mix of native flora in its natural setting, alongside exotics contained in manicured parkland. Scattered about the Nature Park are cultural items representing the various districts of Papua New Guinea.
Raggiana Bird of Paradise
Start with the national emblem: the Raggiana bird of paradise. If you’re lucky you’ll see the male clapping its wings and displaying for a female. The Raggiana bird of paradise is featured on the national flag, and its local name, the Kumul, is shared by the national rugby league team.
Victoria Crowned Pigeon
The Victoria Crowned Pigeon, named in honour of the British monarch, is endemic to Papua New Guinea. They are a gregarious species, often seen together in pairs or small groups, searching the forest floor for fallen fruit.
The Southern Cassowary is the largest of the cassowary, and can be found in Queensland, Australia, as well as across Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. It is the third heaviest bird in the world (after the Common Ostrich and Somali Ostrich).
The Northern Cassowary is a touch smaller than its southern cousin, but still grows to a height of 1.8m. It is found in the northern regions of PNG and Indonesia.
The Papuan Hornbill, also known as Blyth’s Hornbill, has long, pretty eyelashes (which are actually modified feathers). It’s found in PNG, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands.
The Blue-winged Kookaburra is another animal shared between Australia and Papua New Guinea. It’s smaller than the more famous Laughing Kookaburra of Australia, but has a bigger, heavier bill.
It looks like a kangaroo or wallaby – and it is related to both – but it is actually a dorcopsis, a marsupial endemic to PNG and Indonesia.
Huon Tree Kangaroo
Another marsupial, the Huon Tree Kangaroo, named so because it is found on the Huon Peninsula of PNG, sleeps for around 14 to 15 hours a day. They move slowly and sedately like a sloth, but are expert jumpers, able to make leaps of up to nine metres between branches.
Doria’s Tree Kangaroo
Doria’s Tree Kangaroo is commonly described as being bear-like in appearance, due to its stocky build. It is one of the largest tree kangaroos, and endemic to southeastern mainland PNG.
Black Flying Fox
Last but not least, and present throughout the Nature Park in vast numbers: Black Flying Foxes. These bats are eaten by various communities in PNG, which is a little worrying as they are known to be a host of Lyssavirus, Hendra Virus, and Menangle Virus.
A nice thought to leave you with 🙂
Practical information and how to reach Port Moresby Nature Park:
Port Moresby has an international airport with flights to cities in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, and various South Pacific islands. The Nature Park is on the outskirts of the city, and is easily reached by taxi (make sure you use the services of a reputable taxi company). More transport info here.