Emergency recovery efforts are underway to assist Western Australia’s rarest bird following recent bushfires.
The last remaining wild population of western ground parrots is known to occur in Cape Arid National Park and the adjacent Nuytsland Nature Reserve on the south coast.
A bushfire started in Nuytsland Nature Reserve on December 20, 2019 and was contained on January 1, 2020. It burnt through an estimated 49,000 hectares of the reserve and Cape Arid National Park, including approximately 6,000 hectares of known western ground parrot habitat.
Priority actions are being undertaken by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), in collaboration with the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot, to protect birds in the remaining habitat from introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats, and further fire.
Immediate actions include additional feral cat baiting under the department’s Western Shield wildlife recovery program around core habitat areas to relieve pressure on the species from introduced predators.
Additional recovery actions have been identified to secure the ground parrot population and will be planned and implemented in collaboration with partners. These include protection of remaining unburnt habitat, replacement of permanent audio recording units to determine the occupancy and abundance of the parrots, and development of a translocation strategy.
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“Despite bushfires burning through key western ground parrot habitat, the extent to which these birds were impacted was reduced thanks to the exemplary efforts of career and volunteer firefighters.
“DBCA identified early that an immediate response to the fire would be critical to protect the remaining habitat from introduced predators and further fire to ensure the recovery of the species.
“Although it is a complex task, DBCA is working closely with volunteers and partners, including the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot and BirdLife Australia, to conserve the small wild population.”