Monitoring global biodiversity is essential for understanding and countering its current loss. However, monitoring of many species is hindered by their difficult detection due to crepuscular activity, hidden phases of the life cycle, short activity period and low population density. Few statistical power analyses of declining trends have been published for terrestrial invertebrates. Consequently, no knowledge exists of the success rate of monitoring elusive invertebrates. Here data from monitoring transects of the European stag beetle, Lucanus cervus, is used to investigate whether the population trend of this elusive species can be adequately monitored. Data from studies in UK, Switzerland and Germany were compiled to parameterize a simulation model explaining the stag beetle abundance as a function of temperature and seasonality. A Monte-Carlo simulation was used to evaluate the effort needed to detect a population abundance decline of 1%/year over a period of 12 years. To reveal such a decline, at least 240 1-hour transect walks on 40 to 100 transects need to be implemented in weekly intervals during warm evenings. It is concluded that monitoring of stag beetles is feasible and the effort is not greater than that which has been found for other invertebrates. Based on this example, it is assumed that many other elusive species with similar life history traits can be monitored with moderate efforts. As saproxylic invertebrates account for a large share of the forest biodiversity, although many are elusive, it is proposed that at least some flagship species are included in monitoring programmes.