From the CEO: spotting malleefowl

Tuesday 21 September, 2010

Doug Humann, Bush Heritage CEO, sums up the past 3 months

Doug HumannDoug Humann. Photo: Lee-anne Bradley

Spotting a malleefowl in the wild is a rare treat.

And so it was with awe and excitement that a small group of supporters and I watched recently at Charles Darwin Reserve as a malleefowl ambled across the road in front of us.

We stopped breathlessly, reaching for binoculars and cameras, which are so often just out of reach at such times, and marvelled at how these nationally endangered birds can possibly survive.

At first glance, the malleefowl doesn't strike you as a bird with much chance of long-term survival. When I first laid eyes on one in the Victorian Mallee 30 years ago, I remember thinking how clueless it seemed – it looked so vulnerable. What chance could it have of self-preservation?

I didn't take long to realise I was selling the creature short. The malleefowl's extraordinary work ethic, its fierce survival instincts and its ability to camouflage itself – together with helping human hands – have in fact allowed it to hang on and in some cases prosper.

It does so in the face of habitat loss, feral predators and rabbits, which compete for its foraging habitat.

Perhaps it is experiences like these that bring people to care about places like Charles Darwin Reserve. Or perhaps it's something else.

For the Malleefowl Preservation Group, a group of people drawn together by their commitment to this intriguing bird, the mallefowl, it is a mixture of both.

In July, I had the pleasure of meeting with this group to launch their book Mallefowl believers – Stories of the Malleefowl and its champions.

What strikes me about this group is their commitment to what they believe in. Mallefowl believers relates the stories of people who've got their hands dirty looking after the land to protect malleefowl.

In many ways, these people reminded me of a similar group of passionate believers – and that is you, our Bush Heritage supporters.

As the malleefowl labours away, tending its nest, evading feral predators and protecting its young, supporters around our country are making a difference to its future.

You've helped to secure its habitat through improved fire management and feral animal control on five reserves in Western Australia.

The malleefowl is just one of many threatened species that are better off thanks to you. There are many such species on Bush Heritage reserves that you're assisting to protect.

Together we are making a difference, identifying, assessing, acquiring and managing land and water to protect high conservation value areas and our species on Bush Heritage and partners' properties – species like the malleefowl.

Mallefowl believers can be purchased from the Malleefowl Preservation Group's website.

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Doug Humann, CEO

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