Lakes Kutubu & Sentani

About the Area

This ecoregion is located within one of the least populated areas of Papua New Guinea. Its relatively small Lake Kutubu contains 11 endemic fish species, a phenomenon rarely seen in tropical lakes outside of those in the Rift Valley of Africa.

It plays such a big role in maintaining the Earth's natural diversity that in 1998 it was declared a Wetland of International Importance. As for Lake Sentani, besides having its own species of rainbowfish, it is also home to another unique species called the Sentani gudgeon. Invertebrates are poorly known for this ecoregion.

Lake Kutubu lies in the heart of the Kikori Basin, a vast area of wetlands, grasslands, and rain forest. Its water is clear, still, and about 230 feet (70 meters) deep. The Kikori Basin is home to the world's longest lizard, largest egg-laying mammal (the echidna), largest pigeon, largest moth, and second-largest butterfly.
Size:
12,000 sq. km (4,700 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Small Lakes

Geographic Location:
Southeast Asia, in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact
Local Species
Endemic fish species include Kutubu tandan (Oloplotosus torobo), Lake Kutubu rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris), Kutubu hardyhead (Craterocephalus lacustris), Adamson's grunter (Hephaestus adamsoni), Lake Kutubu mogurnda (Mogurnda kutubuensis), blotched and variegated mogurndas (M. spilota and M. variegata), and Sentani rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis).

Featured species

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Echidnas are toothless and feed almost exclusively on ants and termites. They expose termite galleries by breaking open nests with their strong forepaws or snout or by digging into soil. They then extract the termites, which adhere to their long, sticky tongues. When disturbed, the echidna either curls into a spiny ball to protect its soft underside, or digs its belly into the soil, so that only the spines are exposed.

Long spines cover the body and fur is present between them. These slow-moving creatures have a bulbous forehead and a long snout to collect their food. Males have a spur on the ankle of the hind leg but, unlike that of the platypus, it is not venomous. They are equipped with a long sticky tongue that extends perhaps 17 centimetres beyond the end of the snout.

This unusual mammal lays eggs and suckles its young. The echidna does not have teats, the baby clings to specialised hairs within the pouch, where it suckles milk oozing from the mother's mammary glands.
Threats
Lake Kutubu is threatened by over fishing and oil developments nearby, with associated road-building activities and potential for oil spills. Introduced fish species could be very harmful to the endemic species found in these lakes.
WWF’s work
Papua New Guinea's freshwater resources are a large and diverse mosaic of rivers, lakes, hebaceous swamps, savanna swamps, woodland swamps and swamp forests. WWF is currently the only NGO in the region addressing freshwater conservation at country and major catchment level, and the government has too few resources to support widespread wetland conservation and sustainable use programme. WWF PNG's Freshwater Programme is now underway with strong links to Forests, Marine and Species programmes.

New Guinea contains two freshwater Global 200 Ecoregions - New Guinea Rivers and Streams, which covers most of the island, including Papua Province, Indonesia, and Lakes Kutubu and Sentani. These ecoregions are part of a mosaic of several other Global 200 ercoregions, such as the Transfly, Southern New Guinea Lowland Forest, and Southern New Guinea Swamp Forests, and the Bismark Solomon Seas. This overlay of forest, freshwater and marine ecoregions creates great potential for an integrated effort that will contribute greatly to WWF's overall One Global Programme of conservation.

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