The world’s strangest mammals are also its rarest, and may soon join the Chinese paddlefish in the sad annals of the lost.
The South Pacific rarely features in anyone’s mental registers of conflict zones. The region was a major theater of World War II, but it was settled very late in human history and discovered very late by colonizers. Its extreme isolation meant that it has mostly avoided creating indigenous conquering empires or being riven apart by colonial divisions, especially when compared to Africa or western Asia. So it’s fitting, in a way, that the westernmost edge of the Pacific region, where it blends into Asia, should be home to a long-running conflict alternately dubbed “Asia’s Palestine” and “the forgotten war.” (Someone tell that first group that Palestine is in Asia). The struggle to turn New Guinea into a free and united Papua receives far too little attention and even less understanding, which is far less than this fascinating region deserves.