Scientists are confident they have the heard the calls of a new community of the elusive night parrot, one of Australia’s most endangered birds, in western Queensland.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Steven Miles have congratulated Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officers and Australian Wildlife Conservancy ecologists on the ground-breaking discovery at Goneaway National Park.
Ms Palaszczuk said the night parrot was thought to be practically extinct until its discovery at Pullen Pullen Reserve in remote western Queensland in 2013.
“The fact that scientists are confident they have heard the call of the night parrot at another Queensland location is terrific news,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “It comes off the back of AWC scientists finding a new community late last year in Diamantina National Park, just 50 kilometres west of Goneaway National Park.”
Goneaway is an arid park in the residual sandstone ridges between Winton and Jundah.
Dr Miles said scientist would continue to work to establish the scope of the discovery.
“This latest field survey led by AWC senior field ecologist, John Young, was carried out in February 2017,” Dr Miles said.
“While further investigation is required to obtain more evidence to determine the potential range of the known night parrot population, these initial reports are cause for excitement.”
AWC chief executive, Atticus Fleming, said the night parrot calls were heard by John Young – the man who rediscovered the night parrot – and his partner, in a remote area in the national park.
“It is another exciting chapter in the night parrot story where each new discovery provides hope that the night parrot may be more elusive than endangered,” said Mr Fleming.
“The expedition to Goneaway involved exploring likely night parrot habitat by foot and all-terrain vehicle in extreme heat and challenging conditions, highlighting the challenges involved in studying and protecting this nocturnal parrot.”
To protect the newly discovered population from poachers on Diamantina National Park, the government has moved to declaring a Restricted Access Area over part of the park, to provide an increased management presence.
A similar response is being considered for Goneaway National Park; however the park is more remote than Diamantina National Park, and the lack of formal road access significantly reduces the risk posed from public access to this remote area.
Dr Miles said these steps were additional to the government’s efforts in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia to secure the night parrot’s habitat at Pullen Pullen Reserve.
“I look forward to a close working relationship between AWC, Bush Heritage, other landholders and government to protect the night parrot,” he said.