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The Search for Attenborough’s Long-beaked Echidna

  • Locations: The Cyclops Mountains, Indonesia
  • Active dates: 2007 - ongoing


The main aim is to establish the status of Attenborough's Long-beaked echidna and develop a robust monitoring scheme and action plan for ongoing conservation of threatened vertebrates in The Cyclops Mountains. To support this we are working with local communities and organisations to understand the threats and produce a database of indigenous knowledge about local species and culturally important aspects of this unique mountains range.



The Cyclops Mountains cover an area of approximately 400 km² and are characterised by high cultural and biological diversity. They are home to a variety of endemic and restricted range species, including the only locality for Attenborough's long-beaked echidna: A Critically Endangered, and one of only five extant Monotreme species globally. In addition, anecdotal information suggests that these mountains may also be home a second Monotreme species: Short-beaked echidna. If confirmed, the presence of two of only five extant Monotreme species would mean The Cyclops Mountains would constitute a hotspot for Monotreme conservation both within Indonesia and on a global scale.

Because of the area’s unique biological diversity and in recognition of critical watershed ecosystem services provided to neighbouring towns and villages, the Cyclops Mountains Strict Nature Reserve was formed in 1983 (IUCN Category I(a)). Despite strict protection, the area around the reserve is undergoing rapid population growth because of in-migration and new infrastructure development. Whilst presently the threats are poorly understood; subsistence hunting, deforestation, peri-urban development and agricultural intensification are undoubtedly placing this unique habitat under increasing pressure.


- Build long-term collaborations with local stakeholders
- Community interviews to collect species sighting records and to develop a database of indigenous knowledge
- Produce potential species distribution maps for key vertebrates to guide future monitoring surveys
- Establish feasible sampling plots and transects for on-going monitoring of key species
- Identify key threats from ranger patrol data
- Work with local stakeholders to develop an on-going monitoring scheme and species action plan



- Confirmed persistence of Attenborough's long-beaked echidna during an expedition in 2007

- Feeding signs were seen as low as 300m but also up to 1,700m elevation, which indicates the echidna exists over a broader range than previously thought.

- A project now led by Papuan researchers is being set up to investigate the genetics and ecology of echidnas and other mammals in the Cyclops Mountains.

- Assessed the suitability of a range of monitoring methods for Attenborough's long-beaked echidna in 2015.

- Carried out the first systematic survey of local knowledge for vertebrate species of The Cyclops Mountains in 2017.

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