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OUR WORK

Australia is a world leader in species extinction and declines, largely due to invasive species.

Our Work  |  Ending extinction | Photo by Richard Holdaway

 

Extinct: White-chested white-eye

This is Australia’s most recently extinct bird, and the only bird species lost from Australia since 1927. A denizen of Norfolk Island, it was common when surveyed in 1926, but by 1962 fewer than 50 were thought to survive. Rigorous searches by visiting ornithologists in the 1980s, 2009, and more recently have failed to find it, and in 2000 it was declared extinct. A final plausible sighting was made by resident naturalist Margaret Christian in 2005. On two occasions that year she said she saw a single bird.

Black rats, which arrived on the island in about 1943, are blamed for its demise. Further east, on Lord Howe Island, black rats caused several bird extinctions, including that of the robust white-eye, a closely related bird.

The white-chested white-eye was not helped by past clearing of its habitat. Only 10% of the subtropical rainforest on the island remains, mainly in the national park. The white-eyes were known to visit weedy vegetation and gardens, but the large areas of pasture were unusable. With most of the clearing having taken place during the convict era in the 19th century, this doesn’t explain the decline in the 20th century.

The arrival of the silvereye from Australia – a closely related bird with a similar diet – would not have helped the white-chested white-eye. The island also has slender-billed white-eyes living in the rainforests and all 3 species would have operated as competitors. In 2013 silvereyes and slender-bills were estimated to each have a population of 4,000 or more. They are slightly smaller birds than their extinct cousin.

White-chested white-eyes could have been saved without much effort if some had been caught in the 1960s for a captive colony. Asian species of white-eye are easy to keep in cages and often sold in bird markets.

No photo of a live white-chested white-eye has ever been published, although one is said to exist. Museum bird mounts do little to convey an impression of the living species.

Photo: Richard Holdaway

Extinct

Australia has lost about 100 native plants and animals to extinction since colonisation, most of which were mainly due to invasive species. An estimated 27 of those extinctions occurred since the 1960s. 

Learn more about some of Australia’s lost animals:

Mountain mist frog

EXTINCT (1990s)

Sharp-snouted day frog

EXTINCT (1990s)

Desert bandicoot

EXTINCT (1970s)

Yallara (lesser bilby)

EXTINCT (1960s)

Christmas Island pipistrelle

EXTINCT (2000s)

Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]


Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]