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Home > News & Events > MAARSianChronicles > Issue 9: October 2004 > On the Wild Side: Orange-bellied Parrots & Lesser Sulfur-crested Cockatoos

On the Wild Side

Orange-bellied Parrots & Lesser Sulfur-crested Cockatoos

Orange-bellied ParrotOrange-bellied Parrot Conservation Efforts Underway in Australia

The Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) of Australia is only slightly larger than a Budgie, but it is considered to be among the world's most rare animal species; the wild population is estimated at about 150. The Orange-bellied parrot is migratory, spending the winter in coastal Victoria and departing for remote Tasmania in the spring, where they breed.

Tasmania's Nature Conservation Branch began the long-term recovery program more than ten years ago. There was some success with captive-bred individuals released a decade ago in Tasmania — some of the group made it to the mainland that winter, but the trail went cold and they were not identified amongst the wild population after that. In a recent effort to revitalize the wild population, six of approximately 100 captive-bred individuals were released in August 2004 (winter in Australia) in Victoria. The captive-bred birds wear brightly colored legbands to identify them. Scientists will watch and wait expectantly over the next few years, hoping that the released birds integrate into the wild population. It is unknown whether they will follow the wild birds and migrate to Tasmania — or even if the migration is instinctual or learned behavior.

During October and November (spring Down Under) the wild birds make their way to Melaleuca or Birch's Inlet, in the South West World Heritage Area, remaining there until the end of March. Volunteer Orange-bellied Parrot scouts in Tassie (as locals refer to the area) will be looking for the telltale leg bands that would indicate the arrival of the released group. What will happen over the next couple of months is anyone's guess, but those involved in the project hope to observe some vital bit of information about this unusual and uncommon bird that will assist in the preservation of the species.

Lesser Sulfur-crested Cockatoo (Photo © 1999 Krista Menzel)Proposal Uplists Lesser Sulfur-crested Cockatoo to CITES Appendix I

At the 13th meeting of the CoP (Conference of the Parties) of CITES, held this year in Bangkok, Thailand, one particularly relevant proposal was the proposal to uplist Cacatua sulphurea (the Yellow-crested or Lesser Sulfur-crested Cockatoo) to Appendix I from Appendix II CITES designation, thereby giving it the highest level of protection.

The proposal was jointly put forward by the government of Indonesia and ProFauna Indonesia, with the support of many other organizations. C. sulphurea is endemic to Indonesia, where only about 5,000 remain in the wild. Some subspecies exist only in tiny subpopulations. This proposal (#11) and others discussed at the meeting are summarized along with much other useful information on the CITES website. This increases the number of cockatoos on Appendix I to five, along with the Palm, Seram (Moluccan), Goffin's, and Red-Vented Cockatoo.


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