RE: Princess Parrot Trips Wrap-Up

To: Andrew Stafford <>, " net. au" <>
Subject: RE: Princess Parrot Trips Wrap-Up
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 05:40:44 +0000
Good point Andrew, I think you're right. This does need some debate. Without 
wanting to understate the seriousness of this issue and for the sake of debate, 
here are some really quick thoughts.

After an earlier debate on the price of wild parrots I looked up the commercial 
price for wild parrots in Australia and came across this document - 
The prices really surprised me. It puts the price of adult pair of Princess 
Parrot at $80. By contrast the price of a pair of Rainbow Lorikeet is $100 a 
pair, Mulga Parrot $120 a pair, Crimson Rosella $150 and interestingly 
Scarlet-chested Parrot is only $60. The price of the Port Lincoln race 
(zonarius) of the Australian Ringneck is $120 a pair. On pure commercial terms 
this means that it's more profitable to target nesting Ringnecks in the trees 
in downtown Alice Springs than to target the Princess Parrot west of Alice 
Springs. The fines for "unauthorised action with significant impact on listed 
threatened species" according to the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are $550,000 (individual) 
and $5,500,000 (body corporate), and an offence relating to threatened species 
the fine of $46,200 and / or seven years imprisonment (individual). The 
Princess Parrot west of Kings Canyon are (relatively speaking) under 
significant surveillance from interested groups, such as  the Northern 
Territory Natural Resources and Environment Dept and the CLC. This makes the 
chance of being caught for illegal actions relatively high. It appears to me 
that the costs (financial or legal) of illegal procurement of the parrots in 
this particular case doesn't add up. I'm more than happy to be contradicted on 
this - as mentioned my thoughts are purely speculative and the hole in my 
argument may be so large that you could drive a mining truck through it!

Perhaps your second point is more important. The impact of large numbers of 
visitors with 'positive' intentions (such as birders and photographers i.e. you 
and I, although I'm a hopeless photographer :) may have far more serious 
implications for the birds and their environment. As you mention, for example 
through the spread of weeds, social and habitat disturbance, increased 
potential for fire, etc. Therefore limiting birders and other interested people 
from the site, in the way that the CLC, has done is easily the best plan of 
action. As an aside it's also worth noting that Santos, one of Australia's 
largest oil and gas production companies, is operating very near to the area 
that the parrots have been found.


Tim Dolby

From: Andrew Stafford 
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 2:43 PM
To: Tim Dolby;  net. au
Subject: Re: Princess Parrot Trips Wrap-Up

Tim and all,

There is one other extremely important matter that has come out of the Princess 
Parrot situation that urgently needs to be addressed. It has come up on 
birding-aus on many occasions before: the divulging of nesting locations of 
rare birds.

On my visit to the site on 3 December I was shown 4WD tracks that led off road 
(really, off-track) straight to an advertised GPS location for the birds - in 
fact, straight to a nest tree. Those tracks were made by a person who has 
inquired about Princess Parrots on this site before.

I am glad to say this person was "sprung" and his vehicle photographed by 
someone from the NT's Natural Resources and Environment Dept, who was studying 
the birds. I have seen these photographs and on his vehicle was a large ladder. 
Although he says he is a photographer himself, the implications and dangers 
should be clear to all (quite apart from the extraordinary environmental and 
cultural insensitivity involved). The fact that Princess Parrots are common 
aviary birds doesn't mean that poachers won't attempt to capture eggs/specimens 
of wild birds in an event such as this.

One other matter. Buffel grass is an environmental menace in northern 
Australia. It is a weed spread via soil, and is common around Alice Springs. 
Since almost everybody who went to see the birds would have come through Alice 
the potential for birders being a vector for the spread of the grass (which is 
otherwise uncommon in the area where the parrots were breeding) is a legitimate 
concern. Our vehicle was not checked for this before our entry to the area - 
it's something I became aware of after the fact - and it's something I hope the 
CLC will endeavour to guard against in any future trips. I think it's fair to 
say, though, that there is a better chance of infestations being controlled if 
they know who is heading out there!

Andrew Stafford
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