After years of preparation, my PhD student George Olah finally got what he wanted. A special permission from the government of Peru. The 50+ page document gave him access to the Holy Grail of parrot researchers: the Candamo Basin, in the Peruvian Amazon. A place where wildlife exists without any human disturbance since the beginning of times. Surrounded by the foothills of the Andes, the Candamo Basin hosts one of the very few uninhabited tropical rainforest of the world. Not even native tribes had settled here and decades had passed since the last camera team dared to sail the hostile rapids of the Candamo river.
Wildlife Messengers produced a stunning documentary movie, The Macaw Kingdom, about our research expeditions. Watch the trailer below or the full documentary.
Regent honeyeaters were once kings of flowering gums. Now they’re on the edge of extinction. What happened?
Less than 80 years ago, regent honeyeaters ruled Australia’s flowering gum forests, with huge raucous flocks roaming from Adelaide to Rockhampton.
Now, there are less than 300 birds left in the wild. Habitat loss has pushed the survivors into little pockets across their once vast range.
Sadly, our new research shows these birds are now heading for rapid extinction. Unless we urgently boost conservation efforts, the regent honeyeater will follow the passenger pigeon into oblivion within the next 20 years.
If we let the last few die, the regent honeyeater will be only the second bird extinction on the Australian mainland since European colonisation, following the paradise parrot.
Our new paper was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Crates R, Langmore N, Ranjard L, Stojanovic D, Rayner L, Ingwersen D, Heinsohn R (2021) Loss of vocal culture and fitness costs in a critically endangered songbird. Proc. R. Soc. B 20210225.
Several major media outlets picked up the study:
Palm cockatoos, the focal species of our newest paper published in Biological Conservation, are featured in the BBC News.
Keighley MV, Haslett S, Zdenek CN, Heinsohn R (2021) Slow breeding rates and low population connectivity indicate Australian palm cockatoos are in severe decline. Biological Conservation 253:108865. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108865
A video abstract of the peer-reviewed paper "Comparison of three techniques for genetic estimation of effective population size in a critically endangered parrot" published in Animal Conservation (2020).
Authors: Olah G & Stojanovic D, Webb MH, Waples R, Heinsohn R.
A video abstract of our peer-reviewed paper “Parrots of Oceania – A comparative study of extinction risk” published in Emu – Austral Ornithology (2018)
Authors: George Olah, Jörn Theuerkauf, Andrew Legault, Roman Gula, John Stein, Stuart Butchart, Mark O’Brien, Robert Heinsohn
Learn more about the latest findings of the critically endangered Swift Parrot of Tasmania, Australia by watching our scientific video abstract below.
Our research project about the Australian Palm Cockatoo was picked up by National Geographic.
We just had the Australian premiere of The Macaw Project documentary produced by my PhD student George Olah, with Peruvian food, drinks, and music.
The orange-bellied parrot (OBP) is the most endangered bird in Australia. OBPs have been in trouble for decades. Each year conservation scientists anxiously wait for the arrival in Tasmania of migrating OBPs to see how many have survived their winter migration to the Australian mainland. This year the news is bad - only three female and 11 male OBPs survived.
Although some action has already been taken (captive-bred female OBPs have been released), the low number of wild birds is at crisis level, and emergency intervention is required. This is where you come in.
We need your help to raise enough money quickly so we can act fast to try and prevent extinction of the OBP in the next year. We will use the funds we raise to implement an emergency intervention plan for OBPs, which we hope will increase the number of birds that breed in wild nests the 2016/2017 season.
Rob Heinsohn is a Professor of Evolutionary and Conservation Biology at the Australian National University