Rails 'n Crakes rail-roaded

Subject: Rails 'n Crakes rail-roaded
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 22:05:28 +1000
Thanks one and all for the entertainment.

To summarise: I suggested that perhaps the NSW rail which is least shy of
all hadn't been mentioned.

Suggestions offered included Premier Bob Carr (nominated by Lawrie Conole),
Geoff Kennet (Tony Russell), David Hill - the State Rail (Paul Osborn) and
State Rail again (Alan Stuart).  Now had the question related to a plank
(thick as a) maybe there could have been another Premier nomination.

Anyway, I guess State Rail wins with two votes.

Well, perhaps not.  Lawrie Conole gave the correct serious answer: the Lord
Howe Island Woodhen, for Lord Howe is part of NSW.  _Gallirallus
sylvestris_ in the RAOU list; same genus as the Buff-banded Rail.

The Woodhen surely represents one of the most successful of all wildlife
recovery programs.  Originally taken in large numbers for food because they
are so tame, the introduction of pigs, cats, rats and goats nearly pushed
them to extinction.  The few mountain top survivors provided the basis for
a  successful captive breeding progaram.  Pigs and cats have been
eliminated from the island, and  goats reduced to vey low numbers.  A
baiting program for rats is maintained in the interests of the Kentia Palm
seed industry.  And once again Woodhens can be found on many parts of the

Last December I saw them wandering among the hikers at lunch on top of Mt
Gower.   A couple out foraging on a pasture came up to check me out when I
sat down to admire them.  And they regularly wander into the Capella South
restaurant as well as around the restaurant garden.

The island administration is acting in an entirely responsible manner in
caring for this magnificent World Heritage Area (if only the Queensland
Government cared as much for our Wet Tropics!) and there must surely be
good reason to regard the future of the Woodhens with optimism.

Syd Curtis at Hawthorne, Qld.

H Syd Curtis

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