The issues of habitat loss and hunting are of paramount importance to wildlife conservation in Asia. In Sulawesi, Indonesia, these problems are having a serious impact on the vertebrate fauna. Using line-transect methods, the densities of 11 species of large birds and mammals were compared between 1979 and 1994 in the Tangkoko-DuaSudara Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi. During those 15 years, populations ofanoa Bubalus depressicornis, bear cuscus Phalanger ursinus, crested black macaque Macaca nigra, maleo Macrocephalon maleo and red junglefowl Gallus gallus declined by 50–95 per cent while populations of Sulawesi pig Sus celebensis, Tabon scrubfowl Megapodius cumingii, Sulawesi tarictic hornbill Penelopides exarhatus and red-knobbed hornbill Aceros cassidix increased by 5–100 per cent. We considered hypotheses for these changes: habitat loss outside the reserve, habitat degradation inside the reserve, and hunting. Only hunting adequately explained the pattern of changing densities observed. Unless protection from hunting is enforced for these species, we may soon witness the demise of these unique animals in North Sulawesi and possibly throughout the island.