Bird Life Int’l: Endemics thrive on Timor-Leste’s “Lost World” mountain

Bird Life International

Endemics thrive on Timor-Leste’s “Lost World” mountain


Surveys have confirmed that the finest montane forests in Timor-Leste,
and possibly the whole island of Timor, are to be found on the
inaccessible Mount Mundo Perdido – literally, “Lost World”. With 22 of
the restricted-range species of the Timor and Wetar Endemic Bird Area
found so far, Mount Mundo Perdido has been recognised as Timor-Leste’s
seventeenth Important Bird Area (IBA).

The surveys were carried out by staff of Timor-Leste’s Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry, and Colin Trainor of Australia’s Charles
Darwin University, supported by BirdLife and the UK Government’s Darwin

The upper slopes of Mount Mundo Perdido, rising to 1,760 m, have been
protected from agriculture by their steep, rocky terrain. The 16,100 ha
site also includes the 1,390 m Mount Laritame, 5 km to the north.

The IBA almost certainly hosts the largest populations of a suite of
hill and montane bird species on Timor Island. Of the 22 endemics, one
is globally threatened – the Endangered Timor Imperial-pigeon Ducula
cineracea- and eight are Near Threatened, including Slaty Cuckoo-dove
Turacoena modesta and Chestnut-backed Thrush Zoothera dohertyi. Small
numbers of Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua
sulphurea are also present.

A total of 63 bird species have been recorded, including 61 presumed
breeding residents, and two northern migrants. Eleven of the residents
are montane forest specialists, and all appear to be abundant in the

Possibly the most exciting discovery was a population of Pygmy
Blue-flycatcher Muscicapella hodgsoni on the upper slopes, 1,700 km or
more from the nearest known populations in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The
taxonomic status of this isolated population is being investigated.

Mount Mundo Perdido is also considered one of the three most important
sites for conservation of orchids in Timor-Leste, and several new orchid
species have been collected.

Although it has legal protected stratus dating back to the United
Nations administration which preceded independence, the IBA is not
managed as a Protected Area. But local people have responded positively
to the idea of Protected Area management, which would, in line with the
policy established in Timor Leste, be carried out in close consultation
with the community.

Measures would include improved management of livestock, fairer and more
sustainable access to forest products such as bamboo and rattan,
reforestation of eroded areas, and a village forestry programme to
supply timber from plantations, as an alternative to the current
uncontrolled extraction of forest trees.

“The Government of Timor-Leste has shown it is committed to preserving
our natural and cultural heritage through Protected Areas, by declaring
our first National Park (Nino Konis Santana National Park) in 2008. We
continue to work towards managing this area sustainably, while we also
develop plans to manage 12 other Protected Areas including Mount Mundo
Perdido, and to establish 18 new Protected Areas in the long term. All
these are to be part of the new Protected Areas Network in Timor-Leste.
Thanks to this work, we now know that Mount Mundo Perdido is the richest
tropical montane forest site remaining in Timor-Leste”, said Manuel
Mendes, Director for Protected Areas and National Park, Ministry of
Agriculture and Fisheries.

Download the Mount Mundo Perdido IBA profile. Click
here for the English version. Click here for the Indonesian version.


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