Australian Bustard Decline (Kimberley)

Subject: Australian Bustard Decline (Kimberley)
From: "Matthew Herring" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 13:44:17 +1100

Dear Robert and others concerned about Bustards,

I have been speaking, for the last few days, to an Aboriginal man from the Derby - Broome region, WA where he has lived for the last 70 years. He has noticed severe declines in bustard numbers over this time throughout the Kimberley. He recalls seeing flocks in excess of 100 quite regularly but now, in the last decade or so, has only seen up to 40 near Derby. He has eaten them all his life but now only takes a few a year and encourages others to do the same. Being our heaviest flying bird, they are no doubt a very good feed. Perhaps we should be farming them! On top of habitat loss, altered fire regimes, introduced predators and grazing; the increased use of rifles, 4WD's and roads in the Kimberley (and other places) is placing a new pressure on this species and the sustainable harvest has probably been exceeded. Personally the biggest group i've seen is on the Roebuck Plains east of the Broome Bird Observatory (11+) in Feb, 1999. The Kimberley and central northern QLD are meant to be strongholds. The Australian Bustard is now recognised as Near-Threatened in the new action plan and i don't think things are going to get any better in a hurry. A few people have mentioned to me, on the rare occasion that a nest is found, the birds (or bird, maybe only one incuabates etc.) never return, abandoning the nest. I have a great poster in my house (by NSW NPWS) with an excellent drawing of an Australian Bustard and the slogan: Give the poor bustard a fair go! 

Cheers, Matthew Herring - Albury, NSW.  

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