Posted on 29th November 2019 by Media Relations
Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo has joined the fight to save one of Australia’s most endangered birds, with the construction of new facilities for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater now complete.
This week four breeding pairs of Regent Honeyeaters were the first to arrive and it is hoped these birds will start breeding and producing chicks to allow the population to start slowly growing in Dubbo.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said Taronga has been leading the Regent Honeyeater conservation breeding program for over 20 years at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and is now expanding the program to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
“Regent Honeyeater numbers are at critically low levels across all of its range, where estimates suggest just 400 birds remain.”
“Recently, teams were unable to release zoo-bred birds back into the wild in the Capertee Valley due to a lack of nectar being available, which may be attributed to the drought. This makes the further expansion to the conservation breeding program in zoo-based environments critical until conditions improve in the wild,” said Mr Kean.
The $1 million project is funded by the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program. The Dubbo project involved the construction of three purpose-built facilities to significantly expand the breeding program. Construction of the breeding facility and flocking facility are now complete, both located behind-the-scenes, whilst the third pre-release facility is currently being built.
“The facilities at Taronga Western Plains have been designed based on twenty years of experience at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and include a breeding facility, a flocking facility and a pre-release facility,” said Taronga Conservation and Recovery Programs Manager, Andrew Elphinstone.
“The first eight birds have been transferred from Taronga Zoo to Taronga Western Plains Zoo this week by road, and have settled into their new home behind-the-scenes in Dubbo.”
“The next breeding season for the Regent Honeyeaters will be spring 2020 months of the year, so we are hopeful that these birds will produce chicks in their first breeding season in Dubbo next year,” said Andrew.
The Regent Honeyeater is one of Taronga’s Legacy Species, this is a commitment for the next decade to conserve ten critical species, focusing the organisation’s efforts on ensuring their survival.
The Regent Honeyeater conservation breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo is part of the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program that addresses the growing number of plants and animals in NSW facing extinction.
The ultimate goal of the program is to increase insurance population numbers, with the aim to breed for release into the wild to bolster numbers in key habitat areas in the future.
The Regent Honeyeater Recovery Program is supported by National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria), Australian National University, Bird Life Australia, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (NSW) and a number of zoo and wildlife parks in Australia.
Regent Honeyeaters are medium-sized black and yellow birds feeding on nectar, obtained mainly from eucalypts and mistletoe. Once widespread across Australia, they now exist in small numbers across limited sites from north-eastern Victoria to south-eastern Queensland.