Coxen's Fig-Parrot Recovery Team
© The State of Queensland, Environmental Protection Agency, 2001
Coxen's fig-parrot is listed as endangered:
- on Schedule 2 of the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994, subordinate legislation to the Nature Conservation Act 1992;
- on Schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995; and
- under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
It meets the criteria for critically endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN SSC 1994) categories of threat, category C2a (population estimated to be <250 mature individuals and in continuing decline, no subpopulation contains more than 50 mature individuals). It is listed as critically endangered by ANZECC (1995) and Garnett and Crowley (2000).
The subspecies appears on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Coxen's fig-parrot is one of Australia's rarest and least known birds. It has been recorded on just over 200 occasions since Gould described it in 1867. Confirmed or credible sighting reports continue to be made in both range states, including about 30 records in north-east New South Wales since 1970 and twice this number in south-east Queensland over the last decade alone. Nevertheless, accurate predictions about population size are currently not possible.
Coxen's fig-parrot is cryptic and extremely difficult to see in its habitat and may therefore be more common than the number of sightings suggest.
Habitat Requirements and Limiting Factors
Within its range, Coxen's fig-parrot occurs wherever fig trees are present in lowland and upland forest types, riparian corridors, farmland and urban environments. It feeds primarily on the seeds of figs. The taxon has declined due, at least in part, to the clearing of lowland subtropical rainforest in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. Remaining habitat is fragmented and seasonal food shortages may occur. Other unknown threats may also apply. The plight of Coxen's fig-parrot highlights the importance of conserving areas of undisturbed habitat that are large enough to allow the it refuge from threatening processes, and that provide connectivity between occupied areas.
The overall objective of this recovery plan is to prevent extinction of Coxen's fig-parrot from human-induced causes and ensure the stability of wild populations. Specific objectives during the life of the current recovery plan are to:
- locate one or more remaining populations;
- protect remaining populations and their habitat from human-induced threatening processes, thereby maintaining the populations and habitat;
- increase understanding of the ecology of Coxen's fig-parrot ;
- secure and breed a captive population of Coxen's fig-parrots; and
- increase the extent, quality and connectivity of the habitat of Coxen's fig-parrot.
The success of the recovery program will be assessed against the following criteria:
- at least one remaining population is located;
- ecological assessment and monitoring strategies are established;
- wild populations have not suffered reduction as a result of any factors other than stochastic events;
- knowledge of the bird's conservation status, current distribution, life history and taxonomic status is significantly increased;
- at least one pair of Coxen's fig-parrot founders is established and breeding in captivity;
- existing habitat is mapped and conserved, and at least two priority areas of degraded habitat are rehabilitated; and
- active community participation in Coxen's fig-parrot recovery is achieved.
The following recovery actions are required:
- implement an ecological assessment and monitoring strategy;
- undertake captive breeding and release;
- assess Coxen's fig-parrot habitat;
- protect and enhance Coxen's fig-parrot habitat;
- implement a community awareness strategy; and
- manage the recovery process.
Estimated Costs of Recovery
The estimated costs of recovery are shown in Table 1.
The decline of Coxen's fig-parrot emphasises the importance of habitat conservation, the need to maintain habitat connectivity and the conservation of biodiversity. The conservation and study of Coxen's fig-parrot will also serve to protect and enhance poorly conserved lowland rainforest remnants in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. A diverse range of fauna will benefit, including other frugivorous species such as fruit-doves and pigeons, Queensland tube-nosed bat Nyctimene robinsoni and flying-foxes Pteropus spp. Conservation of dry rainforest habitats, in particular, will greatly promote the recovery of the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster. Through awareness of the plight of Coxen's fig-parrot and the opportunity to participate in its recovery, the profile of all threatened species is raised in the general community. This in turn leads to greater opportunities for the conservation of threatened species and increased protection of biodiversity.