Saturday, May 4th, was a wonderful bright day as Taronga staff, volunteers and YATZ (Youth at the Zoo), jumped on a coach and headed off to the beautiful Capertee Valley near Lithgow, home and natural habitat of the endangered Regent Honeyeater.
Recently, Taronga’s Australian Fauna team had released 38 zoo-bred Regent Honeyeaters in Mt Pilot National Park, near Chiltern, Victoria and the group was buzzing, knowing they would be planting trees in NSW to increase the birds survival chances into the future.
Honeyeaters were quite common up until the 1980s, and seen in great numbers along the eastern coast between NSW and Victoria. Now, it’s estimated just 400 are left in the wild and they are thought to be struggling due to loss of habitat, especially their favourite food sources, Ironbark tree flowers. The large flight range of Regent Honeyeaters means they play an important role in pollinating flowering gums, without them, these trees would also find it difficult to thrive.
The Taronga tree planters arrived to the site to find thousands of pre-dug trenches and seedlings, organised by volunteers and staff of BirdLife Australia, ready to be planted. Eager and ready to assist the 50 other volunteers from the Capertee Valley community, the Taronga Zoo group helped plant approximately 2500 new native trees to a property in Bogee, in hopes that the birds would return to the area and have habitat into the future.
I was lucky enough to coordinate, invite and encourage the Taronga family during the day and it was heart-warming and inspiring to see them join together and get their hands and knees dirty for a small yellow and black bird. Many told me they found the day inspirational and they felt good contributing to a real life insitu recovery program.
Regent Honeyeater Education Project Insitu Coordinator