Cheryl Edwardes

Cheryl Edwardes


    Minister announces discovery of breeding malleefowl on Peron Peninsula (with pic)

    19/12/2000 12:00 AM

    The success of conservation initiative Project Eden in the Shark Bay World Heritage area has taken another step forward with the discovery of the first active malleefowl mound on Peron Peninsula, Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said.

    Malleefowl are about twice the size of a domestic chicken and one of only three species of mound-building birds in Australia.

    Project Eden, part of the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s State-wide fauna recovery program Western Shield, focuses on restoring the range of native fauna once found in the Shark Bay area before the onslaught of foxes and feral cats.

    Malleefowl were once widespread across much of southern Australia but declined throughout their former range and are no longer found in some areas.

    Mrs Edwardes said the active mound was discovered last month while CALM staff were radio-tracking bilbies, another threatened species released into Francois Peron National Park as part of Project Eden. Woylies - the first mammal species in the world to be removed from a threatened species list - also had been released into the park and were thriving.

    The Minister said the malleefowl was one of the first species reintroduced into Francois Peron National Park. Groups of malleefowl hatched from eggs at the Peron Endangered Species Breeding Centre were released in 1997 and 1998.

    CALM officers and members of the North Central Malleefowl Preservation Group collected eggs hatched at the breeding centre in 1996 and 1997. The mounds from which eggs were collected were from conservation reserves and private property in the Wubin-Dalwalinu, Canna, Morawa and Mingenew districts.

    “Eggs were also collected from mounds at Kalbarri National Park and Nanga Station in southern Shark Bay, which provided a more local contribution to the founder stock,” Mrs Edwardes said.

    “At least half of the eggs were left in each mound so there would be little or no impact on the reproductive success of resident malleefowl populations.”

    In the past 12 months there were several sightings of immature malleefowl that did not have leg-bands indicating that released birds were successfully building mounds - which contain up to five cubic metres of soil as well as vegetation to incubate the eggs - and raising chicks.

    “The discovery of an active mound confirms released malleefowl are breeding and new malleefowl are being produced to further expand the population on Peron Peninsula,” Mrs Edwardes said.

    “Young malleefowl emerging from the mound after hatching are extremely vulnerable to predation by feral cats and foxes during the first few months of their life.

    “Because of Project Eden, foxes have been virtually eliminated from Peron Peninsula and numbers of feral cats have been reduced to a level low enough to allow several species of threatened animals to be released into the national park.”

    The Peron Endangered Species Breeding Centre also breeds other native animals such as malas, banded hare wallabies, western barred-bandicoots and bilbies to be reintroduced to Peron Peninsula and other WA sites. It is part-funded by the Commonwealth Government through Environment Australia.

    Media contacts:
    Steve Manchee (Minister) on 9421 7777;
    Brett Fitzgerald (CALM) on 9948 1208.

    A male malleefowl