Posted November 30, 2015 17:53:38

Western ground parrot Photo: The western ground parrot is the state’s most endangered bird, with just an estimated 140 left in the wild just before the Esperance fires earlier this month. (Supplied: Alan Danks)
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Western Australia’s rarest bird is a step closer to extinction following the Esperance bushfires destroyed 90 per cent of its habitat.

Cape Arid National Park was one of the places hardest hit by the bushfires earlier this month which claimed 4 lives, burned 30,000 hectares of crops and about 15,000 livestock.

Ahead of the fires there had been just 140 western ground parrots believed left in the wild.

Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) regional ecologist Sarah Comer stated two fires in Cape Arid National Park in mid-October had burned about 20 per cent of ground parrot’s habitat.

“That was deemed a pretty considerable impact on the species,” she said.

Ms Comer stated DPaW was conducting post-fire surveys in the park when the second round of fires hit two weeks ago.

“We had spent two weeks surveying what was left after the first fires,” she stated.

They sound beautiful, it really is a sound you would be missing if they weren’t heard in the evening chorus.

Division of Parks and Wildlife regional ecologist Sarah ComerĀ 

“We had identified birds remaining in a couple of tiny pockets, and then the fires that came by means of a couple of weeks ago actually resulted in the loss of some of these tiny pockets that we had discovered soon after the first fires.

“We now estimate about 90 per cent of its habitat has been destroyed.”

Ms Comer stated two pockets of the bird’s habitat have been untouched by the fires earlier this month, and recordings from automated devices in these places indicated some birds had survived the blaze.

“The challenge for us now is to figure out what remains, and whether or not any birds have managed to escape east towards Israelite Bay,” she stated.

Desperate bid to save surviving birds

Ms Comer mentioned DPaW would this week conduct emergency cat baiting in Cape Arid National Park.

“The urgent action is to handle predators in that region, and then look at fire management out there and how we can save what is left,” she stated.

“The ground parrot is a quite unusual parrot, it’s one particular of only five ground-dwelling parrots in the planet.

“They sound gorgeous, it is a sound you would be missing if they weren’t heard in the evening chorus.

“If we drop the ground parrots these days, what is subsequent? They could be a actual canary in a coal mine.”

The Friends of the Western Ground Parrot has called for on the web donations to save the bird from extinction.

Chairman David Taylor mentioned the group hoped to raise $ one hundred,000.

“I’m hopeful they have all escaped [the fires], but I doubt it extremely significantly,” Mr Taylor said.

“Right after the fire in 2002 birds did survive, so we are genuinely hoping it is going to be the identical situation.

“We have set a target of $ one hundred,000.

“Not to sound pessimistic, but the fires north of Esperance exactly where the farmers have been affected and the townspeople of Scaddan, plus the fires in South Australia, I would say folks would be providing that priority prior to giving any donations to the western ground parrot.

“But we are hopeful.”

Western ground parrot Photo: Western ground parrot populations employed to stretch all the way up the coast south of Geraldton to Israelite Bay, but their numbers have dwindled drastically. (Supplied: Jennene Riggs)

Subjects: environment, bushfire, birds, wa, esperance-6450

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