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53. Telefomin Cuscus

Phalanger matanim


Known from 3 scientific specimens from 1984-86, the Telefomin Cuscus has rarely been seen in the wild since.

Because of this, very little is known of its ecology and behaviour. It inhabits the oak forests along the Nong River in Papua New Guinea, at altitudes of 1400-2600 m above sea level. It is named after the people of the Telefomin Valley. There are 13 existing species in the genus Phalanger, which appears to have originated in New Guinea, outside of its family’s origin in the rainforests of Australia. The Telefomin Cuscus is the most evolutionarily distinct of its genus, representing either the sister species of all previously recognised species of Phalanger or maybe an even earlier split during the evolution of the cuscuses. After an El Niño drought period, in 1998, resulting in wildfires, the only locality it was known to inhabit was destroyed. Because of this, it may be extinct. However, the region of New Guinea has not been systematically surveyed, and it is possible that small populations of Teleformin cuscus survive.

  • Order: Diprotodontia
  • Family: Phalangeridae
  • Population: <50
  • Trend: unknown
  • Size: 34-44cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.34 (?)
ED Score: 11.99 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Only recorded from the areas of Telefomin and Tifalmin, Papua New Guinea. Almost all of the suitable habitat in this region was destroyed by fire in the 1998 El Niño event. The species might also be found further northeast or west of the known collection localities, and its range possibly extends into Papua (Indonesia)

Habitat and Ecology

This species is found in mid-montane tropical moist oak forest, and has an altitudinal range between 1400-2600m. Little is known about its diet or habits. Local Telefol people believe the species is most abundant in rocky areas, typically making its lair among rocks instead of tree hollows.

Find out more

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This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Crops Hunting Fire

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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