Two rehabilitated Baudin’s cockatoos have been fitted with satellite tracking devices and released back into their natural habitat so that scientists can monitor their movements as part of a trial research project.
Research leader Dr Kris Warren and Dr Anna Le Souef from Murdoch University’s Conservation Medicine Program, in collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Perth Zoo, are monitoring the movements of the cockatoos in and around the Perth hills to learn more about their dispersal and habits.
“There is limited information about the daily habits of these birds, so we are incredibly excited about the data we’re starting to gather in this trial,” said Dr Warren.
“Initial reports are telling us that the birds have been flying around the Kelmscott area where they were released on Friday, and have stuck together, which is good for their continued well-being.
“They have been actively exploring the area within several kilometres around the release site. The two birds are estimated to have each flown a distance of approximately 15 kilometres over the last two days, and have been roosting in known roost sites in the area. A flock of wild Baudin’s cockatoos was also sighted in this area over the weekend.
“The trial will help us to refine our methods and test the equipment in the hope we can expand the project and fit more Baudin’s cockatoos with tracking devices in the near future.
“The more we can learn about the distribution of this endangered species, the better informed we will be to help manage their recovery.”
The project is being supported by Newmont Boddington Gold. Dr Warren and Dr Le Souef are also collaborating with DEC, Perth Zoo, the WA Museum and Birdlife Australia on this research and other projects which are investigating the health and age demographics of each of the black cockatoo species endemic to South-West Western Australia.
Dr Warren said this was the first time Baudin’s cockatoos had been tracked in this way. The project follows on from a similar initiative to track eleven Carnaby’s cockatoos by DEC research officer and University of Western Australia PhD student Christine Groom.
Following on from this initial trial, Dr Warren said she hoped funding to expand the study can be secured as part of a successful bid to establish the Safeguarding Biodiversity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
The new CRC will aim to secure resilient and sustainable wildlife in functional ecosystems and a decision from the federal government on its future is expected soon.
The Baudin’s cockatoo is one of the three endangered black cockatoo species which is endemic to South-West Western Australia. It can be found in the southern eucalypt forests of Jarrah, Marri and Karri trees and threats to its survival include habitat loss, illegal shooting, vehicle strikes, poaching, climate change and competition with other cockatoo species, as well as feral bees, for nesting hollows.
The birds, which had undergone rehabilitation at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Rehabilitation Centre after sustaining injuries from suspected motor vehicle strikes, were fitted with the tracking devices last week. They were then released into the wild four days later from Rushton Park in Kelmscott.