A significant number of critically endangered Plains-wanderer chicks have successfully hatched at Werribee Zoo, bringing the total number of birds at the Zoo to 20. When the chicks are old enough to be released into the wild, they will need somewhere safe to go. Enter Trust for Nature. The Trust has been working with landowners who have grasslands in northern Victoria to place voluntary conservation covenants on properties.
Plains-wanderers are critically endangered and ranked number one in Australia and fourth in the world on a list of 9,993 recognised bird species we can least afford to lose because of their evolutionary distinctness.
The Trust is part of a National Recovery Team for the bird which has established a captive program to save it from extinction. The Team includes partners such as Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, catchment management authorities and national partners.
Thanks to the generosity of landowners and support from the Australian Government and the North Central Catchment Management Authority, 470 ha of Plains-wanderer habitat have so far been protected with conservation covenants over the last six years. The Trust aims to protect a further 400 ha over the next four years.
Meanwhile the search for existing Plains-wanderer populations continues across northern Victoria in areas such as Birchip. In 2000, the late ecologist Rick Webster identified six Plains-wanderers on four properties in Birchip and another six properties that he deemed as having suitable habitat. Since then most of this habitat has been cultivated but there’s hope there are remnants left that are providing habitat to the birds. The Trust is ground-truthing the remnants in collaboration with the Birchip Landcare Group to see if they are suitable habitat for Plains-wanderers and installing song meters to record any calls that the birds make in order to locate any that might live there.