Well, I guess it could be worse the Minister for the Environment has declared the King Island Green Rosella and King Island Black Currawong (Black Jay) as being Vulnerable to Extinction. In other words they are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. This decision is based on the estimated size of the populations, as recommended by the Australian Threatened Species Scientific Committee, based on scientific research and the results from the Blitz counts we undertook.
THIS IS A WAKE-UP CALL TO US ALL!
It means that four of King Island subspecies are now threatened with extinction: two are listed as Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild) being the King Island Scrubtit and the King Island Brown Thornbill, and two are listed as Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild) being the Green Rosella and Black Currawong.
These listings tell us more than just how the birds are faring. Birds as Indicators of Environmental Health, i.e. how many different species are present, what they are and the size of their populations, is widely regarded as an important method of monitoring the health of the environment (ecological sustainability). So, having two more bird species added to our list of Threatened Species means that the overall environmental health of King Island is declining. Undoubtedly, the ongoing loss of habitat will be the major cause of these declines although there may also be other contributing factors.
Critically important is the preservation of all remaining habitat especially old growth habitat including old gumtrees that may have nesting hollows.
We need to improve the condition of and expand the remaining remnant bushland patches as well as planting new ones.
Nesting sites are an issue for all hollow-nesting animals on the island so the provision and monitoring (against bees and starlings) of nestboxes for the Rosella is another important conservation method.
Further research is needed to identify OTHER threats
Recovery Plans need to be developed and acted upon for all of these species.
The Wings on King project, that KINRMG is currently developing, will play an important part in the on-going monitoring of these species - as well as kick-starting a bird watching tourist industry on King Island.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT.