Cultural traditions threaten echidna’s existence

sir davids long beaked echidna

Feared to have gone extinct since it is last seen around 60 years ago, the primitive mammal has brought back enough reasons for the conservationists to rejoice. I’m talking of the long-beaked echidna — the native to the island of New Guinea in the South Pacific — one of the world’s rarest creatures.

With its meat found to be very greasy and extremely tasty, the egg-laying, spiny mammal proves not just its being alive but also well and healthy. This is perhaps for the first time any scientist is seeing one alive.

The mammal closely related to the platypus, is thought to live on only one mountain peak in New Guinea’s Cyclops Mountains. The one specimen of the mammal that was believed to exist, was last seen in 1961, now a show-piece in a Netherlands museum.

What provided the researchers with the clue of its existence are their ‘feeding holes’ or ‘nose-pokes’ – which they create hunting for worms — at altitudes of only 985 feet. The large number of their presence assured of the mammal’s thriving.

Excited about the finding, Jonathan Baillie, a conservationist with the Zoological Society of London and who led the expedition said,

It gives us hope that many more echidnas live higher up the mountain.

But, the challenge of assuring their future existence lies with the scientists’ successful convincing of the villagers, to let go with their cultural traditions of catching an echidna and sharing its meat with a rival in a bid to restore peace.


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