If the Lower Lakes were restored to their estuarine state, salt marsh habitats would be restored as well. The critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot might just have a chance. Less than 50 birds exist in the wild today.
In the News
This story claims that 'salt marshes' and the decline of them as habitat is causing the extinction of this parrot with the emphasis on the lack of freshwater flows to the Coorong. But could it be that perhaps the barrages, and a 'freshonly' management regime in the Lower Lakes which has reduced the size of the estuary, has added to the decline of suitable salt marsh habitat?
Historical information suggests that the population of the Orange-bellied Parrot has fluctuated since the first European settlement. There are reports of "thousands" from the 1830's, 1880's and the 1910's.
The decline appears to have been most dramatic since the 1940's but the population may have stabilised in recent years (1975 - 1985) at its present very low level off 100 to 200 birds.
The current Coorong estuary is only 10% of the original River Murray estuary's size when the estuary included the area of the Lower Lakes prior to the barrages. The barrages were completed by 1940. Salt marshes thrive along shallow estuaries, not freshwater lakes.
If the Lower Lakes were restored to their estuarine state, salt marsh habitats would be restored as well. The Orange-bellied Parrot might just have a chance.
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Predicted Winter Habitat for the Orange-bellied Parrot
21 April 2010
"Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett has announced urgent action is being taken to save the orange-bellied parrot from extinction with the latest data showing the wild population could become extinct within three to five years"...