CUSCUS COME ALIVE AT NIGHT- TUFI DIVE RESORT, PNG

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Cuscus At Tufi Dive Resort

I had never heard of a cuscus before, let alone see a spotted cuscus If you had described one to me I would have said, “Nah, get away!”. So when we went to Tufi Dive Resort in PNG I was expecting just another tropical dive resort, yet another two weeks of being only non-diver in a group of 7 divers. Great!

Well, was I blown away by being greeted by a very handsome and confident Koko, a wild Blyth hornbill when we entered the resort grounds (see “Koko, the Terrorist of Tufi” article and photo gallery). I knew then that this was going to be a very special and unusual holiday for me, with something to keep me occupied during the day whilst being left ‘home alone’ whilst the others went diving from breakfast till late afternoon.

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But wait, there was more to come. Koko had kept me very amused most days by his naughty antics and those of his more silent partner in crime, a male wallaby, that seemed to keep him company most days.  But then one evening I discovered one a small enclosure just outside the lounge-dining room in the garden. I had missed it the first few days and not taken any notice of it as there didn’t seem to be anything in it. But that particular evening one of the others in our group had gone over and came back shrieking “Come look, come look, they’re WEIRD!”

Cuscus Are Alive at Night

Well we all rushed over and lo and behold, in the enclosure were three, just awakening curious golden tan furry animals. I had no idea of what they were, but one of the staff had noticed the mini commotion and had told us then that they were cuscus, spotted cuscus no less.

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What the heck was a spotted cuscus? I didn’t have a clue, but these little guys were truly adorable!

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Since then I have learned that they are a marsupial native to the Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. They are a subspecies of possum and are the largest of the world’s possum species. They come in different colours, mainly brown tan or white, and are nocturnal, living in the trees and feeding at night on leaves and small insects or birds. Cuscus have long sharp claws and a naked prehensile tail which helps it move from tree to tree. They are endangered, not only as they are hunted for food and their thick fur, but because of increasing deforestation as logging companies move more and more into their habitat.

We went over to them most evenings after dinner when they were just waking up to say hello to them and watch them for a while – yes we are all pretty hooked! Then one day one of the staff said we could go inside the enclosure to get close up some photos. They also mentioned that they liked to eat hibiscus flowers as a treat. Well, that did it.  Each evening we each went inside and took some flowers as a little bribe for some good photos, but we got more than that.

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They were very ‘benign’, friendly creatures and so curious each time we entered their enclosure.  It didn’t take them long to be all over us trying to get at our flowers, and boy did we get some lovely shots of these little guys. Considering the dark conditions of the night and their poorly lit enclosure, we managed to get some lovely pics of these cute marsupials.

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And we certainly got to experience their prehensile tail and sharp claws as they would use our head or neck to wrap around and hang off while they tried to reach the flowers we had in our hands.

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They certainly added another dimension for my holiday experience of Tufi Dive Resort, with some lovely memories to take home for ever. As a ‘diving widow’ you can only look at so many photos of fish, fish and yet wait for it, yep, more fish (sorry Tony!), but Koko and these little cuscus absolutely made my holiday one I would never forget. So Tony, you can keep your fish – I am one ‘happy Jan’!  Just wish I could have packed one or two of them in my luggage….

[Photos by Irene Isaacson]

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2 Comments

  1. Tony Isaacson on

    Tufi really was quite remote. We were one of the few white people there near a small remote jungle village with a tiny active and working harbour where the dive centre was. At times Irene didn’t feel comfortable being on her own there while everyone else was out diving, so she tended to stay in the confines of the Resort. Hence her fascination with the other ‘residents’ there!

  2. Love the web site, some amazing photos of not only marine life, but you have also given us a taste of the country you are in.
    Not to sure I would have felt or looked as comfortable with Tull as you did!!

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