Saturday, 13 September 2014 14:10
Written by Natalie Holmes
They’re shy, they’re unique and they’re iconic to the region. But as we discovered, the malleefowl is also, sadly, on the brink of extinction.
Isolated and independent, the malleefowl is a creature both shy and solitary. An iconic native bird and one of only two megapodes (big-footed mound builder) residing in Australia, the malleefowl also has another fairly alarming defining feature – it’s nearly extinct.
According to the Federal Department of the Environment, the total population of this indistinct-looking species is estimated at 100,000 breeding birds scattered across 100 subpopulations, although this information is considered to be of low reliability. Once widespread across southern Australia, the birds can now be found only in small pockets in four states: NSW, Victoria, Western and South Australia.
Their numbers have been degraded by a range of pressures on habitat mainly caused by an increasing human population in the past century and the problems associated with that: fire threats, predation, disease, agricultural practices, mining and to a lesser extent these days, hunting.