The Solomon Islands expedition and workshops

In April 2016 project funding was secured for multiple expeditions to the Solomon Islands. The aim is to facilitate conservation and increase our understanding of the biodiversity in these tropical islands, combining both current scientific methods and traditional local community knowledge to do so.

The first AM expedition in August 2016 was in search for the elusive monkey-faced bat and the Bougainville giant rat, previously believed to be extinct. So little is known about this region’s spectacular fauna that our scientists had to delve into accounts made by naturalists in the late 1800s and early 1900s to shed light on the regions biodiversity. Dr Tyrone Lavery had been studying small mammals in the Solomon Islands for several years before leading the 2016 expedition. Our scientists, with the help of the local community, set up mist nets to capture bats, alongside motion-detecting cameras and small traps in trees to capture rats.

That same year a workshop took place at the AM. Community members from the Solomon Islands and Bougainville visited in order to share information on current scientific methods for surveying, community participation and traditional local knowledge.

To further strengthen ties, in July 2018 a significant reconciliation headed by Chief Esau and Prof Tim Flannery took place. For the past 100 years tensions in the region had resulted in minimal faunal surveys being undertaken, with the reconciliation paving the way for a valuable united conservation effort.

The next scientific expedition in October 2018 was ornithological trip investigating the bird life of the area. Two AM researchers, Corey Callaghan and Richard Major, worked with Chief Esau Kekeubata, Tommy Esau and the Kawinaa’isi Cultural Centre to conduct surveys with local community members.

In April 2019 an insect and malacology (molluscs) expedition was lead by Expedition Coordinator Paul Flemons. Along with leading the trip Paul collected beetles on the behalf of Dr Chris Reid, Dr Frank Koehler surveyed the regions gastropods and Dr Andrew Mitchell butterflies and moths. As well as to find any undescribed species in the area the team aimed to shed light on the biogeographical connections between fauna of the Solomon islands and Australia. The latest expedition in July 2019 was a herpetofauna (frogs and reptiles) survey conducted by Dr Jodie Rowley and Tim Cutajar. A workshop took place in September 2019 in Honiara and Gala, with Dr Rebecca Johnson, Dr Tim Flannery and Paul Flemons.

Solomon Islands New Georgia Map

Solomon Islands Map

Image: Design Unit
© Australian Museum

Project Participants

Dr Rebecca Johnson is the Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI). Dr Johnson facilitated a workshop at the AM in 2016 with attendees from the Solomon Islands and Bougainville, visited the Solomon Islands in 2017 to liaise with chiefs and leaders, and will also be attending workshops in September 2019 in Honiara and Gala.

Prof Tim Flannery has 30 years experience in the field in the Solomons and is a facilitator of expeditions and related workshops. Prof Flannery visited Malaita in 2018 to take part in a reconciliation ceremony.

Dy Tyrone Lavery is the inaugural recipient of the Australian Museum Research Institute's Expedition Fellowship for 2015/16. Tyrone embarked on the first AM research expedition to the region in 2016 to search for giant rats and monkey faced bats.

Dr David Maclaren is the Regional Coordinator of Kwaio communities.

Tommy Esau is a Community Leader in Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Dr Jeff Noro heads the PNG Science and Technology Secretariat.

Junior Novera is a PhD Student at UQ and regional co-ordinator for Bougainville, PNG.

Dr Richard Major is a principal research scientist with the AM specialising in ornithology. Richard ventured to Malaita in 2018 to understand more about the regions' birds.

Corey Callaghan is a PhD student with the AM who accompanied Dr Major on the 2018 ornithology expedition.

Paul Flemons was the expedition lead and coordinator of the April 2019 expedition searching for beetles, snails and moths. Paul will also be attending the September 2019 workshops in Honiara and Gala.

Dr Frank Köhler, a senior research scientist in malacology at the AM, embarked on the April 2019 expedition in search of land snails.

Dr Andrew Mitchell is a systematic entomologist with the AM who accompanied Dr Köhler in April 2019 to search for moths and butterflies.

Dr Jodie Rowley, Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology at the AM, is soon to embark on a herpetofauna (frogs and reptiles) expedition in August 2019.

Timothy Cutajar is a research assistant at the AM who will join Dr Rowley on the upcoming herpetofauna expedition.

Expedition Blogs:

17 JAN 2020

Remarkable reconciliation ceremony in the Solomon Islands paves way for future partnerships by Emma Flannery.

An account of the July 2018 reconciliation ceremony headed by Chief Esau Kekebata and Dr Tim Flannery

20 DEC 2019

Kwaio and AM researchers jointly publish survey results from Malaita, Solomon Islands by Emma Flannery.

The publication of two scientific papers by Kwaio and AM scientists brings the 2018 ornithological expedition to completion

27 SEPT 2019

Solomon Islands archipelago workshops by Emma Flannery.

Three AM scientists travel to Honiara and Gala to participate in workshops celebrating several years of joint conservation efforts between the AM and the Kwaio.

15 AUGUST 2019

Collaborative frog surveys in the clouds by Jodi Rowley and Tim Cutajar.

Jodi Rowley and Tim Cutajar report on the recent herpetology expedition to Malaita.

26 JULY 2019

The Baru Conservation Alliance: Kwaio-led ecological conservation, education and cultural rejuvenation in the Solomon Islands by Emma Flannery.

A background on the development, benefits and future hopes of the Kwaio-led Baru Conservation Alliance.

11 JULY 2019

Women-led frog conservation in mountainous Malaita, Solomon Islands by Emma Flannery.

The aims of the most recent expedition to Malaita, the surveying of frogs and reptiles by Jodi Rowley and Tim Cutajar.

28 MAY 2019

Expedition to Malaita: The return from searching for the island’s smaller fauna by Emma Flannery.

The cultural and scientific experiences of AM scientists who returned from the beetle, snail and moth survey in Malaita.

26 APRIL 2019

Expedition to Malaita: The secret world of insects and snails in the remote forests of the Solomon Islands by Emma Flannery.

AM scientists describe their expectations and expedition aims for an upcoming survey in Malaita to search for beetles, snails and moths.

12 APRIL 2019

Conservation in the heart of the Solomon Islands by Emma Flannery.

A background of the AMs involvement in collaborative research in the Solomon Islands.

16 DECEMBER 2018

Birding trip report from Malaita, Solomon Islands by Richard Major and Corey Callaghan.

A daily summary of the ornithological expedition to the Solomon Islands.

14 DECEMBER 2018

Expedition to the Mountains of Malaita by Richard Major et al.

An extensive account of a collaborative and comprehensive bird survey in the Solomon Islands.

28 NOVEMBER 2017

Our Global Neighbours: Reflection on Kwaio by Stan Florek.

A background on the Kwaio community's involvement in conservation and education as well a description on the AM workshops and Kwaio community member attendees.

21 NOVEMBER 2017

Kwaio Cultural Performance by Madelaine Love.

A description of the traditional performance by members of the Kwaio community at the AM.

15 AUGUST 2017

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands visits the AM by Madelaine Love.

A report on the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare's visit to the AM, where Professor Tim Flannery, Dr Rebecca Johnson and Dr Sandy Ingleby shared the outcomes of the AM's 2016 research expedition and ongoing work with communities in Malaita.


Malaitas Monster Rat by Tyrone Lavery.

Evidence is found of the giant rat on the island of Malaita!

21 OCTOBER 2016
Kainake and the kamare: Hot on the trail of Bougainville's giant rats by Tyrone Lavery.

Dr Lavery describes the historical importance of research in the region and the importance of closely working with the local communities.

A view of Malaita from the clouds by Tyrone Lavery.

Dr Lavery brings us up to date on the outcomes of the first research expedition.

9 AUGUST 2016

Through village gardens and into the mist by Tyrone Lavery.

Dr Lavery describes his arrival on the first expedition to the remote mountains of Malaita.

18 APRIL 2016

Our current knowledge of the endemic mammals of the Solomon Islands Archipelago by Alexandra Durham.

An insight into the small mammals of the Solomons region, as well as research methods and identification of bat and rat species.

6 APRIL 2016

Australian Museum Expeditions: Giant Rats and Monkey-Faced Bats of the Solomon Islands Archipelago by Alexandra Durham.

A report on the first workshop held at the AM, with attendees from the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and associated community based partners.

Expedition blogs

Expedition blog