Orange-bellied Parrot Reintroduction
To breed and reintroduce orange-bellied parrots into their former range in Australia
The orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is a critically endangered species. Each year it migrates from its breeding grounds in southwest Tasmania to mainland Australia, where it spends the winter in salt marsh and dune habitats. These habitats have been significantly reduced and degraded by human activities over the past 200 years. Habitat loss is considered to be the primary cause of the parrot's population declines. Only one population now exists in Tasmania and breeding within this population is very low. The exact cause of the low breeding success is unknown, but may be attributed to several factors including poor habitat quality and genetic issues resulting from small populations over many years. It is predicted that this species will be extinct in the wild within 3 to 5 years if urgent conservation actions are not taken.
This programme aims to restore the orange-bellied parrot to the wild through captive breeding and release, coupled with habitat management and restoration. 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 10016 is implemented by the National Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team, which represents the Australian Government, state wildlife agencies and a range of other organisations, with support provided by Zoos Victoria Healesville Sanctuary, Adelaide Zoo and Taroona. Stakeholders involved in the project include Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Department of Sustainability and the Environment, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Department of Defence, Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service, Birds Australia, WWF–Australia, University of Melbourne, Latrobe University, Sydney University and University of Tasmania.
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