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Landholders key to renewing of Plains-wanderers

Landholders are playing a vital role in reviving the population of an iconic bird found in the sparse native grasslands of the Riverina – so far they have committed almost 4700 hectares of primary habitat on their farms to curb extinction of the critically endangered Plains-wanderer.

Werribee Zoo last week reported nine chicks were successfully hatched as part of a captive breeding program.

“Landholder involvement is critical in our region to preserve Plains-wanderers in the wild, and we’re so excited to see the success in breeding programs – hopefully one day they can be introduced back in to wild habitat,” said Riverina Local Land Services Project Officer Megan Purvis.

Ms Purvis is one of a team of people who has signed up eight landholders over the past two years who have set aside habitat on their properties.

An overall goal of 10,000ha is very much in sight with funding offered under the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program until June 2023.

Only 300 birds are estimated to be left in the project area which is bounded by Hay and Narrandera on the Murrumbidgee River in the north, the Cobb Highway in the west, the Billabong Creek in the South and Urana in the East, she said.

“This area of habitat will support around 1000 birds, and it would provide a safety-net during drought years like we’re facing when much of the habitat elsewhere may be unsuitable for the Plains-wanderers,” she said.

“When favourable seasonal conditions return, the population can expand out of these areas and grow to its maximum of around 3000 birds.”

The Plains-wanderer is a small ground dwelling bird that requires specific habitat conditions. Strategic grazing management is crucial to controlling their ideal habitat. Incentive funding is available to assist landholders and is packaged unique to each property.

“We tailor support packages to individual landholders – it’s not a one size fits all approach,” Ms Purvis said.

“They have told us that to manage paddocks for livestock production and Plains-wanderer conservation, they need help with pest and weed control, fencing, water points, saltbush plantations, stock management areas, and feeding infrastructure so we have obtained funding to support these activities as it’s beneficial to both the Plains-wanderers and for livestock or pasture production.”

Landholders interested in finding out more can contact Megan Purvis (0428 941 061), Cassandra Hooke (0427 632 561) or Claire Gannon (0429 465 958).

This project is supported by Riverina Local Land Services and Murray Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

Media contact: Simone Norrie – Riverina Local Land Services – 0419 648 813

Media contact: Matt Lane - Murray Local Land Services - 0427 459 755