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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)

Article

Protecting Wimmera malleefowl

Jun 29, 2020

Malleefowl_David Watson 2-360x254WebnewsMalleefowl by David Watson
 
WCMA-MalleeFowl Graeme Creek (1)-360x253WebNewsMalleefowl chick by Graeme Creek
The nationally-vulnerable malleefowl is a unique and iconic bird that personifies Mallee landscapes. A Wimmera partnership is seeing land managers, environmental groups and community volunteers work together to improve the trajectory of the malleefowl population in the Wimmera. 

‘Protecting our Malleefowl’ is a Wimmera CMA lead project in partnership with land managers and key stakeholders which aims to conserve the malleefowl by addressing key threats to the species including predation, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. The latest monitoring results for the past year indicate that the Wimmera population is stable and breeding. 

Invasive predator control

Funded from the Australian Government's Regional Land Partnerships Program as part of the National Landcare Program, the project helps deliver threat abatement works including an invasive predator control project across more than 100,000 hectares. 

Malleefowl chicks are particularly susceptible to fox and cat predation because they receive no parental care. As soon as they hatch and emerge from the nest, the chicks disperse and must fend for themselves.

The project is also participating in the National Malleefowl Recovery Group’s Adaptive Experimental Management Program, a nationwide research experiment aiming to better understanding what impact foxes have on malleefowl populations. This is achieved by monitoring malleefowl and fox populations at numerous sites across Australia and comparing sites where fox baiting is occurring with sites with no fox control. 

Latest monitoring results

In the Wimmera we are fortunate that the Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group has been monitoring the local population for around 20 years and the latest results for 2019-20 have revealed some exciting findings:

  • Volunteers visited 165 mounds across 10 sites including four new mounds and of those, 34 showed signs of active breeding. This an increase from the previous year of 27.
  • Researchers estimate that 70 breeding pairs live in the Wimmera and results indicate the population is stable.
  • There is evidence of an increase in breeding over the past 20 years, and that the Wimmera’s breeding population is relatively stable.

What makes the malleefowl so unique?

BirdLife Australia has a great summary: It doesn't build a nest like most other birds. Instead it uses its strong feet to scrape large amounts of leaf litter and sand from the ground and into a large pile. The eggs are then laid into a cavity at the top of the mound and covered over. As the leaf litter begins to compost it generates heat and this is used to incubate the eggs, rather than sitting on them. The male malleefowl checks the temperature of his breeding mound regularly, and scrapes material onto or off the mound to keep the temperature just right. So clever!