Is this the end for Orange-bellied parrots in the wild?

June 13th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Is this the end for Orange-bellied parrots in the wild?
Conservation projects

In recent days several media reports informed about the outbreak of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease in the wild population of the Orange-bellied Parrot.

What are the facts? According to the latest information comming from researchers, last 50-70 individuals persist in the wild because of the devastating PBFD outbreak. It’s necessary to say that this disease is common in many parrot species and Orange-bellied parrots have had to face it in the long term.

‘The disease has been confirmed multiple times over the last 30 years in the captive Orange-bellied parrot population as well as in the wild,’ said Howel Williams, acting General Manager of Natural and Cultural Heritage at the Tasmanian Environment Department for Daily Mail.



At this moment, it’s very important to find out how the disease spread out. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hung announced the urgent situation. One of the potential hypothesis is that Orange-bellied parrots got infected from other wild parrots on feeding tables in Tasmania.

In 2011, the researcher team which tries to recover Orange-bellied parrots in the wild agreed to capture some of wild birds and create an insurance population. Fortunately, this species is doing well in captivity, the total number of birds in ten facilities exceeds 340. We may ask – what if the captive population wouldn’t exist? Is the parrot breeding really such crime as many people say?

However, Australian government makes a great effort to save the Orange-Bellied Parrot in the wild, its situation is even worse than in case of the critically endangered Swift Parrot.

“The concern is that with fewer than 70 birds in the wild, a disease outbreak like this can just basically pick the population off completely,” said Eric Woehler, convenor of BirdLife Australia’s Tasmanian branch, for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Gregory Andrews , the Threatened Species Commissioner mentioned for the SDH four steps which are necessary to take now:

1) to boost captive breeding

2) a screening program for beak and feather disease;

3) to review the bird’s “out of date” threat abatement plan;

4) and adjust captive management to reduce the spread of disease.


We keep fingers crossed and hopefully the future reintroduction will save this species from extinction.


Title photo:  (c) JJ Harrison . This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.






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