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Critically endangered orange-bellied parrot population shows signs of recovery

Date: 13-May-20
Author: Liam Taylor

Whilst researchers are glad to see numbers of the orange-bellied parrot reach their highest point in a decade, the species remains critically endangered. Image: JJ Harrison/CC

Whilst researchers are glad to see numbers of the orange-bellied parrot reach their highest point in a decade, the species remains critically endangered. Image: JJ Harrison/CC

Over one hundred orange-bellied parrots will fly north from Tasmania for the winter this year after numbers fell to just three adult breeding females in 2017.

Last spring only 23 of the birds arrived at their breeding site at Melaleuca, deep in the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area. This year however, the number of birds making the trip north has been recorded at 118, the first time in over a decade numbers topped the century mark.

This year’s numbers were boosted in three ways according the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE). A group of 34 adult birds were released from captivity and bred with the original group of migrating birds to produce 37 fledglings. These were then joined by a further 49 captive-bred juveniles.

Not every bird made it to this point, and the demanding nature of their long-haul migration means less than half of the 118 birds that set off this year are likely to return. Whilst this indicates the orange-bellied parrot is still critically threatened, it would represent a big win for the conservationists working with these animals as numbers fell so low in recent years.

“It is an amazing feeling to have had over 100 birds migrate together, but at the same time it’s one step,” Dr. Shannon Troy, a wildlife biologist with the Tasmanian DPIPWE, told The Guardian Australia.

“The real change we need to see is the number of birds in spring. That’s census time.”

 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.



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