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.