Environment Minister Albert Jacob said with fewer than 140 western ground parrots estimated to be left in the wild, breeding birds in captivity may be one of the keys to the species’ survival.
“The western ground parrot is Western Australia’s rarest bird, with the entire population restricted to a couple of locations on the south coast,” Mr Jacob said.
“These shy, secretive, ground-dwelling birds are vulnerable to predation by feral cats and to bushfires. To safeguard the species, Parks and Wildlife established a secure facility on the south coast five years ago for a small number of the western ground parrots.
“Now these birds have been transferred to a newly refurbished aviary at Perth Zoo, a breeding program will be developed to underpin ongoing recovery efforts for the wild population.”
The Minister said the Department of Parks and Wildlife was continuing to implement the western ground parrot recovery plan in Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River national parks, including fire management and feral cat control using new Eradicat® baits.
“Once threats have been addressed – and if the birds are able to be successfully bred at the zoo – we hope they can be released back into national parks,” he said.
State Government funding to initiate the captive breeding program has been supplemented by a 5,000 grant from the volunteer-run group, Friends of the Western Ground Parrot.
“The Friends of the Western Ground Parrot are to be commended for their commitment to this species. It is pleasing to see such co-operative arrangements between government and the community to achieve positive conservation outcomes,” Mr Jacob said.
Specialised holding facilities for the western ground parrots at Perth Zoo include temperature control, native vegetation and 24 hour CCTV surveillance.
More than .5million has been invested by the State Government since 2008 to fund recovery actions for the western ground parrot.