Updated: Sep 2
30 odd years, millions upon millions spent and hundreds of dead birds; are these the makings of a complete and utter failure?
If you know even the slightest bit about this project that has run for around three decades, then you'd no doubt be well and truly aware of how unsuccessful it has been. The species has been more or less functionally extinct in the wild for at least the last 5-10 years, only managing to persist due to the release of just enough captive bred birds each year to enable the return of a handful from their winter home on the mainland to their breeding grounds in Tasmania each spring.
There's one thing that I am sure of in regards to this precious little Aussie, if the species was made available to private aviculture, even if it was only to selected experienced neophema breeders, back when this program first started, then we would have literally thousands of them in our aviaries by now and they would at the very least be safe in captivity. As it stands, the captive population has hovered at around the 300-350 bird mark for the past 5-10 years and only two private facilities have been allowed to participate, with Moonlit Sanctuary being one of the two and having achieved great success since being invited to participate (Moonlit's recent involvement and breeding success could well be said to be the first major success achieved within the program since its inception?). The fact that the person in charge of the breeding of these little gems at Moonlit is in fact also an experienced and successful private aviculturist, comes as no surprise. Overall, I feel that this backs up the call to allow selected private breeders, who possess the necessary experience with neophemas, to work with this species to at least safeguard its future in captivity.
Read the recent Guardian article here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/17/orange-bellied-parrots-all-but-extinct-survive-tasmanian-summer-only-to-die-migrating