Long-beaked echidnas belong to an ancient clade of egg-laying mammals that includes the platypus of Australia. They are easily distinguished from short-beaked echidnas by their long snouts, which account for two-thirds of the length of the head. The eastern long-beaked echidna has the widest distribution of the three long-beaked echidna species. However, while relatively common in the recent fossil record, this species is in decline in areas accessible to humans. It has lost much of its forest habitat to logging, mining and farming and is regarded as a highly prized game animal by local people, who hunt it with specially trained dogs. It has already been driven to extinction in parts of its range. Urgent conservation action is now needed to ensure that remaining populations survive.
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