Aussie researchers turn to crowdfunding to help save endangered parrot

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-18 10:28:08|Editor: Song Lifang
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CANBERRA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- As part of a new effort to help save the critically-endangered swift parrot from extinction on the island state of Tasmania, Australian researchers have turned to crowdfunding to help bankroll a new and potentially life-saving piece of technology.

Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) and the National Environmental Science Programme on Wednesday revealed that they were seeking donations from the public to help save the swift parrot, which is currently at risk of extinction due to predatory sugar gliders - a species of gliding possum introduced to Tasmania early last century.

In a media release, ANU conservation scientist Dr Dejan Stojanovic said the number of swift parrots in Tasmania had been consistently declining as a result of being massacred by sugar gliders, which love to eat the small birds as well as eggs and chicks at night when the parrots sleep.

He said as it was hard to get conservation funding, the researchers were turning to crowdfunding to help bankroll a device which helps protect the parrots in their man-made nesting boxes - also funded by the public last year.

"In some of these places, we've never had a chick survive. If we don't intervene immediately, this year could be a huge blow to the conservation of this species," Stojanovic said on Wednesday.

"We have developed a sugar glider excluding device that locks the front door of nest boxes at night, when parrots are at risk, but opens during daylight to let parrots move freely.

"The door is triggered by a light sensor to open at sunrise and to close at sunset. It is powered by a solar panel and has a back-up battery. The prototypes we tested worked well, and the parrots didn't mind the machinery.

"Our main problems now are costs and timing. The birds are starting to arrive and are looking for nesting sites now, so we need to act right now."

Stojanovic said due to the generosity of Australians last year, the conservationists had been able to install hundreds of nesting boxes on Bruny Island on Tasmania, but the next step would involve installing the anti-possum technology.

"With the support of more than 1,000 people through crowd funding, and by working with arborists and volunteers, last year we installed hundreds of nest-boxes on Bruny Island," he said.

"It boosted the population by about 300 birds - that's huge for a critically endangered animal - but unless we can install enough possum excluders this year, those big gains will be lost and we could have less swift parrots than ever before by the New Year."