Per­fect storm of cir­cum­stance put black cock­a­too on en­dan­gered list

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Metropolitan -

THE Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment has cat­e­gorised the Carn­aby's black cock­a­toos as en­dan­gered, fac­ing a very high risk of ex­tinc­tion in the wild in the near fu­ture.

They live for 40 to 50 years in the wild and a large pro­por­tion of the present pop­u­la­tion is now past breed­ing age; when they die, there will be very few younger birds to take their place.

The Gov­ern­ment has cat­e­gorised for­est red-tailed and Baudin's black cock­a­toos as vul­ner­a­ble, fac­ing a high risk of ex­tinc­tion in the wild in the medium-term fu­ture.

Habi­tat loss and frag­men­ta­tion has been the main cause of de­cline of WA's black cock­a­toos (Baudin's, Carn­aby's and for­est red-tailed) and is the big­gest threat to their fu- ture sur­vival, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.

Only 10 per cent of south­west WA's orig­i­nal na­tive veg­e­ta­tion re­mains and the rest has been cleared, mainly for min­ing, agri­cul­ture and log­ging. The loss of old­growth for­est has meant suit­able nest­ing hol­lows are scarce.

Baudin's black cock­a­toos, for ex­am­ple, nest only in trees that are 130 to 220 years old, and for­est red-tails nest only in trees aged at least 209.

Th­ese are pre­cisely the type of trees tra­di­tional log­ging prac­tices tar­geted and log­ging ro­ta­tion poli­cies did not al­low trees to grow old enough to de­velop ad­e­quate hol­lows, though log­ging reg­u­la­tions have changed in re­cent years.

Com­pe­ti­tion for the hol­lows is now fierce be­tween species of black and other cock­a­toos.

Wild­fires caused by light­ning or ar­son are po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic threats, re­duc­ing food avail­abil­ity and caus­ing older trees with nest­ing hol­lows to fall.

Other causes of a fall­ing black cock­a­too pop­u­la­tion in­clude pre­da­tion, col­li­sions with cars, il­le­gal trade and shoot­ings.

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