The New Guinea Highland dog, known for its unique vocalization, has established itself on the Island of New Guinea at least 6,000 years ago. More than a half-century, we have suspected that the world’s rarest and the most ancient dog has gone extinct. However, fears were dispelled after re-discovering a small population in their native range. Hidden in the wilderness in some of the most remote regions of Earth, the researchers found at least 15 healthy dogs.
The first clue that these extremely shy species still exists somewhere in nature was in 2015. Director of Adventure Alternative Borneo, Tom Hewitt took a picture of a dog suspected to be Highland dog. However, there was no confirmation but gave a good base for further researching.
In 2016 the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF) headed by zoologist James K McIntyre took an expedition in the mountains of New Guinea. Led by tracing tracks and scat in the dense forests of the New Guinea highlands, they set the cameras. They also set scent baits to attract potential group. On the highest summit of Mount Carstensz, Puncak Jaya camera captured more than 150 images of singing dogs.
Researchers managed to confirm through DNA testing that at least some specimens still exist and thrive in the highlands of New Guinea. DNA analysis also confirmed their relationship to Australian dingoes. After more than a half-century, this was the first documentary confirmation of their sighting in nature. On the other side, it is estimated that there are around 300 individuals of the species living in the Zoos and private homes. Now when the dogs finally found in nature, researchers will take the necessary measurements to protect the area and ecosystem surrounding their facilities.
New Guinea Highland dogs are known for their distinctive and melodious howl, which is characterized by a sharp increase in pitch at the start and very high frequencies at the end.
New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation said in a statement: “Further study is not the only key to gauging the health and fitness of the ecosystem these dogs inhabit, but vital to understanding canid and human genetics, co-migration, and co-evolution. To unlock the secrets of the Highland Wild Dog is to better understand ourselves and our own story.”