Endangered bird release brings joy to local farmers

The wild population of one of Australia’s most unique birds was boosted in the first ever release of zoo-bred birds in NSW. It’s a feat that wouldn’t have been possible without the farmers who protect the habitat.

Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) release at Hay

It’s been a huge twelve months for the endangered plains-wanderer. Fresh off the back of the first release of captive-bred birds into the wild in Victoria (April 2021), March 2022 saw the first ever release of birds into NSW.

This captive breeding program is a group effort between Taronga Zoo, Featherdale Wildlife Park, Zoos South Australia and Zoos Victoria. This group effort is just one part of this success story. It has to be noted that if it weren’t for the many amazing landholders involved in this project, there’d be no habitat for the birds to be released back into.

Farmers play a crucial role in the conservation of the species as 95 percent of prime plains-wanderer habitat occurs on private land. By signing their paddocks up to the paddocks for plains-wanderer project, landholders receive support to manage ground cover for livestock production and plains-wanderer conservation.

Established in partnership with Local Land Services (LLS), the project has seen 25 landholders sign up a whopping 13,400 hectares of habitat to be managed and maintained for plains wanderer conservation across the riverine plains of southern NSW.

Bert and Liz Matthews, owners of the property where wild birds have been collected for the breeding program, and now zoo-bred birds released back in March, have been with the project from the start.

“It really hasn’t been a great impost on our management to be a carer for the plains-wanderer,” say Bert and Liz.

“A lot of what the management of plains-wanderer habitat involves, was exactly what we were doing.”

Want to sign up to become a guardian of crucial plains wanderer habitat? Read more about the paddocks for plains-wanderers incentive project 2021-22.