Adelaide Zoo breeding and South Australian habitat bought to save orange-bellied parrot

The orange-bellied parrot migrates from Tasmania to south-eastern Australia every winter.
Image courtesy Zoos SA

Captive breeding at Adelaide Zoo has a key role in national efforts to save the orange-bellied parrot, with 2019 estimates of less than 50 left in the wild.

One of only three migratory parrot species in the world, the orange-bellied parrot (neophema chrysogaster) moves from coastal south-western Tasmania to south-eastern Australia every winter The parrot is threatened by loss of habitat, and cats and foxes.

About 40 hectares of coastal land in South Australia's lower south-east were bought by the state government in 2015 to protect the parrot’s habitat. Two properties, between Carpenter Rocks and South End, add to 50 kilometres of protected coastal habitat. The land buys aim to provide an important corridor of remnant native vegetation to benefit the parrots that migrate along the coast.

The areas include thatch and grass sedgeland that's vulnerable due to clearance and drainage. Other species affected include the antechinus, the swamp antechinus and the olive whistler bird. Linking habitat areas give the parrot the best chance of maintaining nesting sites. One property — about 30 hectares next to Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park — had high biodiversity value and protected the Carpenter Rocks gum, listed as vulnerable in the state. The second property is about 10 hectares and next to Bucks Lake Game Reserve.

Contributing to the land buys were the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife New South Wales, and Nature Foundation SA, with Friends of Naracoorte Caves National Park giving major funding for land next to Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park. The Friends of Mount Gambier Area Parks, the Friends of Shorebirds South East, the Friends of Beachport and Canunda Parks, and Millicent Field Naturalists helped buy the property next to Bucks Lake Game Reserve.

Zoos SA captive breeding partners include Birdlife Australia, Zoos Victoria, Taroona Breeding Facility, Tasmanian primary industries and water department, and the Australian Government environment department.

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