Orange-bellied parrot crowdfunding effort raises more than $120,000 to help save species


Scientists racing to save the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot have been stunned by the generosity of the public, who have donated more than $120,000 to help bring the species back from the brink.

Last week, scientists from ANU began a crowdfunding campaign to finance an “emergency intervention” to save the rare bird from extinction.

Post-doctoral fellow Dejan Stojanovic said the campaign reached its $60,000 target within 24 hours — and had doubled it after three days.

“We’re slowly making our way to about $140,000, which would give us $10,000 for every wild, remaining parrot left,” he said.

Dr Stojanovic said the support had been “incredible”.

“It’s been just totally humbling and overwhelming. It’s been really amazing how wide the reach has been and how interested everyday people are in these poor little birds,” he said.

Orange bellied parrots have been critically endangered for years.

But in recent weeks it became apparent that only a small number of birds had survived the species’ winter migration from Victoria, to Melaleuca in Tasmania’s southwest Wilderness World Heritage Area.

“Only three females returned from migration from the Australian mainland this year, and they were joined by 11 males,” Dr Stojanovic said.

“So effectively the global population of wild orange-bellied parrot comprised only three pairs — that’s as bad as it’s ever been.”

‘Still hope’ for the species

Thanks to the success of the crowdfunding campaign, Dr Stojanovic and his colleagues will now be able to take steps that will hopefully help the species survive in the wild.


“Last week we went out for the first time as phase one of this intervention, and did a sweep of all the nest boxes of the last area where these birds breed,” he said.

“We checked all the boxes including [those of] the three wild remaining females, plus about a dozen or so captive bred females that were released into the wild a week or two ago.

“We found four nests plus about four others that looked as if they might have birds start nests, so we’re going to go back again this week.”

Any infertile eggs will be replaced with fertile ones from a captive breeding program, run by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

Once the eggs have hatched, the next stage of the intervention will aim to ensure that as many nestlings as possible survive.

“If we detect any problems with the health of the nestlings we’ll be able to administer medication or extra food — whatever those nestlings need to survive,” Dr Stojanovic said.

“So it’s going to be an extremely intensive, individual-based intervention, where literally every nest and every nestling … will benefit from this crowdfunded money.”

Dr Stojanovic said for the orange bellied parrot, only three wild females remaining was a catastrophe by any measure.

“But it’s not to late yet … there is still hope,” he said.

“Other species have been brought back from the brink with even fewer individuals. But that all hinges on being able to act swiftly and being resourced adequately to do that.”

The crowdfunding campaign ends on Monday afternoon.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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