Australia's critically endangered Regent Honeyeater is a spectacular bird with golden-edged feathers on its back, wings and tail.
It once inhabited four states, but because of habitat loss, the Honeyeater is now only found in small patches of Box-Ironbark forest, inland of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales and Victoria.
With remaining population estimates of only 500 to 1500, the decline of the Regent Honeyeater has had a huge impact on the greater ecosystem because these birds are major contributors to the pollination of native plant species.
A national recovery plan involving Taronga Zoo and other organisations has been established to save this species from extinction. The Zoo has been breeding Regent Honeyeaters since 1995 in order to:
- Learn more about how to breed and raise the birds
- Provide “insurance” against the demise of wild populations and most importantly…
- Release the birds back into the wild and observe the results
This endeavour has required huge efforts from experts and volunteers in order to breed, release and track the birds. 27 birds were released in 2008 at Mt Pilot National Park in Chiltern. These birds were observed behaving like their wild counterparts and have already successfully bred. Upon the back of this trial’s success, Taronga Zoo released 44 more Regent Honeyeaters in early 2010 to rebuild the wild populations.
At the same time a program has been established by the Taronga Zoo Education Centre that engages local schools to help preserve and develop habitats. This will ensure that the spectacular Regent Honeyeater will have the resources it needs to thrive in the future.