JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH HON MATTHEW GROOM, TASMANIAN MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Today, the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot has secured a $525,000 lifeline from the federal government to help rebuild its numbers after the discovery of beak and feather disease in its wild population.
“Upon discovering of the outbreak, I immediately called on my Department for an urgent strategic response to this latest threat to one of our rare migratory parrots, and funding has been identified on advice from the Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews,” said Minister Hunt.
“These funds will boost the Tasmanian Government’s captive breeding and recovery programme for the orange-bellied parrot and make sure we keep the parrot’s insurance population safe, as well as look after the wild population.”
These funds will build momentum for emergency action to save the species ahead of a special meeting of experts today, to be chaired by the Commissioner and attended by members of the orange-bellied parrot recovery team, Birdlife Australia, Zoos Victoria, the National Environment Science Programme Threatened Species Recovery Hub, avian experts, disease specialists and the Tasmanian Government.
“We are focused not only on the short-term goal of limiting the spread of the disease in the orange-bellied parrot but on the long-term one of increasing its population so the species is better able to ward off threats in future,” said Minister Hunt.
“Only about 50 to 100 of the birds are believed to survive in the wild, earning the orange-bellied parrot the unwanted status of the world’s most endangered parrot species as well as a place on our national threatened species list.
“But the orange-bellied parrot is a survivor, braving Bass Strait each year in its migration from summer breeding grounds in Tasmania to summer feeding grounds in coastal Victoria and South Australia.
”I want to make it clear that the Australian Government is not going to give up on this species.”
Minister Groom said this funding will build on the efforts already being implemented by the Tasmanian Government, which has provided more than $800,000 over three years to help the species recover.
“This funding from the federal government will strengthen an existing program that has delivered good results so far for the Orange-bellied Parrot. The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s actively manages a substantial part of the total captive-breeding population of around 330 parrots,” said Minister Groom.
“Captive-bred birds released into the wild have already produced fledglings, in a major milestone for the species.
“This allocation will deliver a boost for practical actions to combat beak and feather disease as well as breeding and release actions like remote cameras at breeding and feeding sites and new customised nest boxes that give the parrot a better chance against predators.”
Australian parrot species have experienced outbreaks of beak and feather disease before. It is a common disease among parrots and cockatoos, but the low numbers in the orange-bellied parrot population means that it has a severe impact on the survival of the species.
The federal government is taking unprecedented action to protect Australia’s threatened species – this includes the appointment last year of Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner.
Next month the Australian Government will host a Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne to bring together for the first time a cross-section of society with a common concern for Australia’s animals and plants, to explore solutions and promote practical and effective ways of tackling threats to their survival.