Helmeted Honeyeater Reintroduction
To breed and reintroduce helmeted honeyeaters into their former range in Australia
The helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) has a naturally small, restricted distribution and a narrow range of habitat requirements. Over the last century, however, much of its habitat has been cleared for agriculture, resulting in isolated and reduced populations. This habitat loss, along with bushfire, drought, predation and competition from both native and introduced species, has been the major processes threatening the continued survival of this species. The Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Programme was initiated in 1989 after the wild population declined to only 50 individuals along a single 5 km stretch of creek.
The recovery programme for the helmeted honeyeater aims to (1) manage a viable captive population, (2) breed individuals for release into the wild, (3) develop effective release strategies to increase the number and size of wild populations, and (4) identify and conserve other suitable helmeted honeyeater habitat.
The long-term aim of the programme is to achieve a stable population of at least 1000 helmeted honeyeaters along several creek systems of the birds' former range. Zoos Victoria's key roles in the recovery programme include the captive breeding programme for this species at Healesville Sanctuary to supplement in situ populations through reintroduction and maintain an insurance population in captivity in the event that the wild population continues to decline.
WAZA Conservation Project 10014 is implemented by Zoos Victoria Healesville Sanctuary and the (Victorian) Department of Sustainability and the Environment, with support provided by Taronga Conservation Society of Australia. Other stakeholders involved in the project include Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater Community Group, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Yarra for Life, Judith Eardley Wildlife Association, Bird Observers Club of Australia, Birds Australia, Latrobe University and University of Melbourne.
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