I think the two biggest impacts on Night Parrot (and many other arid zone
species) habitat have been overgrazing in much of their range, and the
changes in fire regimes.
The former can be quite readily addressed and is being addressed by many in
the pastoral community. Contrary to popular vitriol, and always with a few
exceptions, people who make their livelihood from the land are usually very
sensitive to its responsible management.
The latter problem is more difficult but there is much work being done on
the problem and many land managers across the outback are starting to get a
better understanding of the role of fire in arid ecosystems through the
work of people like Peter Latz and Grant Allan in Alice Springs.
Central Australia IS in rude health at the moment, and many of the old
hands that I talk to believe that the vigour of this season has far
outstripped anything they have witnessed in their lifetimes, including the
last significant wet season of 1973-74.
If the increase in Princess Parrot sightings at the moment is anything to
go by, then if there was ever going to be any sort of community organised,
systematic approach to searching likely habitat for a viable study
population of Night Parrot, then the time for that endeavour is now.
I'd be surprised if there aren't a few more Night Parrot sightings as the
tourist numbers rise heading into the cooler months, and if those tourists
were a bit better educated and perhaps on the lookout, then we might
increase the likelihood of chance sightings being more credible. There is a
role for Birdlife Australia in this education program or perhaps the
shadowy organisation (whose very existence is new to me!) known as the
Night Parrot Network.
The boom of the desert, and its effects on fauna abundance, should last for
a good while yet, and as the desert dries and animals naturally start to
concentrate on reliable water sources we may get a second bite at the
cherry. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Frederick Andrews' book might be wise
in this effort; I believe most, if not all, of his specimens were obtained
by staking out waterholes, so we know they drink!
There you go. I believe that is well and truly my two cents worth.
*BIRDS CENTRAL AUSTRALIA*
*Central Australian birding resource*
*Guiding, writing, and the latest site information*
*from Alice Springs*
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