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5 Endangered Australian Species You May Never Have Heard Of

Including our conservation projects at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

 

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Australia has lost more animals to extinction than any other country in the world. With so many of our lesser-known native animals hanging on the very cusp of existence, now’s the time to act.

"In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught," – Baba Dioum.

Echoing the wise words of this famed conservationist, protecting our wildlife for future generations is important to us—and we understand that education is the key to success in conservation. Our breeding and research projects have been an effective conservation tool, helping us to impart our knowledge of the major threats which face our most vulnerable species, many of which are flying under the public radar.

Perhaps it’s their endangerment that deems them so unfamiliar—but it’s our job to draw attention to the issues that are contributing to their endangerment and to help raise some much needed conservation funds.

Here are just a few of the causes we, at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, are actively pursuing:

 

1. Kroombit Tinker Frog conservation
 

 

No, not Kermit the Frog. The Kroombit Tinker Frog is a critically endangered Queensland native who’d be a whole lot harder to spot in the rainforest than the bright green Muppet-type. This rather unknown amphibian gets its name from the high-pitched “tink, tink, tink” sound it makes in the summertime, when it’s ready to mate. 

Although the risk of extinction for this tiny little frog is high, research suggests this can still be undone.1 The Sanctuary's world-first conservation efforts hope to safeguard their future for generations to come, and scientists are working on ways to protect them from the deadly chytrid fungus.

 

2. Mahogany glider conservation

 

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While you’ve probably heard of our native Sugar Glider, you might not have stumbled upon its rare, slightly larger lookalike. This endangered, almost-intangible little glider was once known to be extinct for more than 100 years. Nowadays, small numbers of Mahogany Gliders of live among a narrow coastal habitat in Queensland’s north. But due to the nature of their fragmented habitat, these nocturnal animals remain under severe threat.Other causes of mortality include entanglement in barbed wire fencing, road kills and predation by cats.

Our aim is set up more captive breeding programs, here within the Sanctuary, to ensure history doesn't repeat itself.

 

3. Eastern Bristlebird conservation
 

 

While the Eastern Bristlebird is known for being shy, its loud and distinctive call can actually make for a unique and reliable way to track them down.3 But traditional birdwatchers will have a lot of trouble spotting this little known whiskered songbird in the wild—and numbers of Bristlebirds are dwindling fast, making it even more difficult to observe any of its estimated population of 35. 

Back in 2013, we partnered up with the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage to breed captive populations for release—and in 2018, we’re still refining our captive husbandry approaches to give these birds the best chance of success in the wild. The Eastern Bristlebird is currently listed as an endangered species.

 

4. Glossy black-cockatoo conservation

 

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While the appearance of their chicks might be a little on the eccentric side, when matured, these feathered friends boast a shiny black-brown plumage with brilliant red tail panels. Listed as vulnerable, glossy black-cockatoos face an uncertain fate—and, if education, community support and breeding programs are unsuccessful, they could disappear from Queensland skies altogether.

Much to the excitement of our Sanctuary, our conservationists have managed to pull off a captive breeding program for these friendly birds. Feeding almost exclusively on the seeds of Allocasuarina and Casuarina—this was no mean feat for our wildlife heroes.4


5. Coxen’s Fig-parrot conservation
 

 

For over two decades, our Sanctuary has been involved in recovery efforts for the Macleay’s Fig-parrot in the hopes that the same breeding and husbandry conventions can be put in place if and when its endangered rainforest relative, known as Coxen’s Fig-Parrot, returns to captivity.

These brightly-hued natives are among the country’s most endangered birds.5 Our aim is to increase community awareness of the plight of the little-known Coxen’s Fig-parrot, before the species edges closer to extinction.

Our commitment to wildlife conservation is the very bedrock of our organisation—and our conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as the generous support of our visitors. To improve the prospects of Australia’s critically endangered wildlife, you can visit or donate to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation—or discover more on your next visit to the Sanctuary.

 

References

1. Skerratt, L.F., Berger, L., Clemann, N., Hunter, D.A., Marantelli, G., Newell, D.A., Philips, A., McFadden, M., Hines, H.B., Scheele, B.C. and Brannelly, L.A., 2016. Priorities for management of chytridiomycosis in Australia: saving frogs from extinction. Wildlife Research, 43(2), pp.105-120.

2. Jackson, S.M., 2000. Population dynamics and life history of the mahogany glider, Petaurus gracilis, and the sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps, in north Queensland. Wildlife Research, 27(1), pp.21-37.

3. Gibson, L.A., Wilson, B.A., Cahill, D.M. and Hill, J., 2004. Spatial prediction of rufous bristlebird habitat in a coastal heathland: a GIS‐based approach. Journal of applied ecology, 41(2), pp.213-223.

4. Cameron, M., 2006. Group size and feeding rates of Glossy Black-Cockatoos in central New South Wales. Emu, 105(4), pp.299-304.

5. Tisdell, C. and Wilson, C., 2004. Birds in an Australian rainforest: Their attraction for visitors and visitors' ecological impacts.
 

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