Many thanks for your response.
As you well know, the article points the finger of blame at the lack of funding
and commitment from our nation, to supporting the recovery of any species on
the brink of extinction.
It will come as a surprise to most Australian birders who didn't see you
interviewed on Stateline, that capture and removal of a very substantial
proportion of the remaining wild population is going to happen. Maybe this is
the right approach and "scientifically-based" but you yourself admitted on
Stateline that this is a risky move and could spell the end of Orange-bellied
Parrot in the wild. The documentary said the birds were "effectively extinct"
I think the work that the recovery team is admirable but are we doing enough?
Maybe you could answer that question? What can you do with an appropriate level
of funding? Is it enough? What in situ habitat management has been done? When
was the last time there was any management of saltmarsh regeneration or
ecological succession at the known remaining sites?
If there are inaccuracies in the article, I would suggest you or anyone else,
leaves a comment below it. I can change any absolute errors. This is a chance
for you to both add detail, improve the awareness of people reading and to
maintain a permanent record. However, I don't think the substance of the
article really changes all that much. However we look at it, taking any number
of birds out of the wild now - whether they be chicks, adults or otherwise,
carries the same coarse level of risk. That is, there is a very high
probability that the population will continue to decline and the birds will
become extinct in the wild so only birds remain in captivity. There is no
scientifically-based method of quantifying this risk to any better level.
We're gambling with the birds existent, so the question is, have we got enough
chips left on the table to survive being dealt the occasional bad hand? In
other words, is there enough funding to accommodate a variety of measures - not
just captive breeding but also habitat management - which you yourself have
suggested may be needed so the birds can reach breeding condition and lay eggs.
I think the Australian birding population would feel more comfortable if there
was any sign of a political will to support this work. The attitude to OBP
causes friction amongst birders, amongst developers, politicians and the
general public. I ask again, as a nation, do we give a damn?
> Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 21:42:45 +1000
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] the walk of shame for Orange-bellied Parrots
> Simon Mustoe stated in his recent posting on this chat-line and on his
> website that the recovery team is planning on removing half the population of
> OBPs to captivity this year. This statement is wrong and unhelpful and I ask
> that it be removed from Bird-O. An accurate description of the Action Plan
> endorsed by the State and Commonwealth Governments can be found in the
> recovery team's newsletter 'Trumped-up Corella' on the BA website. There was
> also an article in the June Wingspan and there will be another in the
> September issue.
> The recovery team plans to increase the number of founder individuals in the
> captive population, to a total of 30 if possible. The program to take wild
> birds has been carefully designed to cause minimum harm to the wild
> population - it is a scientifically-based, selective harvest. We aim to
> remove one nestling from all nests that can be accessed for as long as there
> is a wild breeding population, or until the target is reached. We will also
> attempt to catch any unbanded juveniles because they are likely to be derived
> from a different breeding group to those from the main breeding population at
> Melaleuca in sw Tasmania, where all nestlings have been banded for the last 8
> years or so. Because they are probably not from the Melaleuca breeding group,
> unbanded juveniles may be more valuable as founders for the captive
> population - the Melaleuca breeding group is already over-represented in
> Targeting juveniles results in a lower impact on the wild population than
> targeting adults because, as in any population, the juvenile mortality rate
> is higher and most of them will not reach adulthood anyway. Juveniles taken
> into captivity may begin breeding before they are 12 months old.
> Taking a single nestling from each nest eliminates the possibility of
> bringing in full siblings, ensuring maximum flexibility in options for
> pairing captive birds, and allows the remaining nestlings (clutch size
> usually 3-5) to continue their natural development as wild birds.
> The annual winter OBP count is on this weekend - wish us luck, right now we
> know the whereabouts of perhaps 7 birds!
> Peter Menkhorst
> Chair, Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team
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