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Papua New Guinea Conservationist Gives Free Talk

PHILADELPHIA, May 29, 2014

Andy Mack in boat

Dr. Andrew Mack.
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Papua New Guinea is a place where six-foot-tall birds kill with a kick and kangaroos live in trees. Conservationist and author Dr. Andrew Mack has spent two decades exploring the mysterious South Pacific country, and on Monday, June 16, he will recount his adventures in a free talk and book signing at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, sponsored by Papua New Guinea Tourism Board and Swain Destinations.

In addition, two cultural representatives from Papua New Guinea—Mundiya Kepanga, from the Huli tribe, and Fabian Paino, a Malagan master carver—both making their first trip to Philadelphia, will display their bilas (traditional dress) and perform live carving demonstrations. Visitors will be able to meet these special guests afterward.

Andy Mack in boat

Fabian Paino, Papua New Guinea woodcarver.
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After his talk, which starts at 7 p.m., Mack, a former Academy biologist who is now executive director of the Indo-Pacific Conservation Alliance, will sign copies of his new book, Searching for Pekpek: Cassowaries and Conservation in the New Guinea Rainforest. To register to attend the free An Evening in Papua New Guinea event, visit

Papua New Guinea, which occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world and contains the third largest rainforest, housing 6 percent of Earth’s biodiversity. It’s also one of the least explored countries. Scientists believe many species of plants and animals remain undiscovered, in the face of a rapidly growing economy based on mining and other natural resources.

A resident of the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, Mack has led numerous conservation activities and related field research in the region over the last 20 years. He has written more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, led numerous expeditions, and built and managed several field research stations in Papua New Guinea. He is committed to facilitating and strengthening grassroots conservation efforts in the Indo-Pacific region and was a leader in the development of a large training program for conservation biologists, conservation professionals and university students.

Born in a traditional round hut, Kepanga grows sweet potatoes and rears pigs in his native country. He has participated in creation of several books and documentaries out of Europe about his culture, and he established one of the first traditional village stays (or PNG B&Bs) in Papua New Guinea. Paino is well known in his country as a Malagan wood carver, and his artwork can be found in collections around the world. Their journey to Philadelphia was made possible by Papua New Guinea Tourism Board and Philadelphia-based travel company Swain Destinations.

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