Plains-wanderer joins koala on iconic species list

The endangered plains-wanderer, a small grassland bird similar in appearance to a quail, joins the koala and the brush-tailed rock wallaby on the state’s list of six iconic species, Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatas) chick, Taronga Zoo

As part of the listing, the plains-wanderer will be given priority investment under the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program in an attempt to prevent its declining numbers. The program aims to maximise the number of threatened species that can be secured in the wild in NSW for 100 years.

Mr Speakman also announced the first successful zoo bred plains-wanderer in more than 30 years under a joint Office of Environment and Heritage and Taronga Zoo partnership.

“The plains-wanderer is so discreet that only a handful of farmers, scientists and avid bird enthusiasts are likely to lay eyes on it in the wild,” Mr Speakman said.

“A pair of birds held at Taronga Zoo have mated and produced eggs and so far five healthy chicks have hatched and are thriving.

“In the past decade plains-wanderer numbers have dropped 80 to 90 per cent due to habitat loss – there are as few as 200 remaining in the wild.”

The Office of Environment and Heritage is working with Riverina farmers to help protect the plains-wanderer through careful management of grazing in areas of key habitat. Ideal habitat has roughly equal parts bare ground and low vegetation, and the birds thrive where light to moderate grazing delivers these preferred conditions.

The five species currently listed as iconic are the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, the koala, the southern corroboree frog, the malleefowl and the Wollemi pine.

They are listed as iconic for their social, cultural and economic importance.

For more information on NSW’s iconic species, visit the Saving our Species Iconic species website