Pairs death a blow to parrot population

Lisa Morrison ALBANY ADVERTISERAlbany Advertiser

The survival prospects of WA's rarest bird species suffered the latest in a string of setbacks last week.

Perth Zoo reported two western ground parrots had died from respiratory illness on Tuesday.

The male and female were captured on November 13 and 14 by Department of Parks and Wildlife staff in the species' last known wild habitat, Cape Arid National Park, east of Esperance.

The move was a safeguard after fire torched 16,500ha of bushland in the park in October.

It is unknown how many parrots remain in the wild, after another fire was sparked by a lightning strike on November 15, but before the fires, the department estimated a population of 140 birds.

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot secretary Anne Bondin said the volunteer conserva- tion group was very disappointed.

"It was a shock, but we are confident Perth Zoo has done everything in their power to look after the birds," she said.

"Taking birds out of the wild has risks and one is that they could possibly die." Mrs Bondin said she was optimistic the species could be brought back from the brink of extinction.

"It is not the end for the parrot, but it will take hard work, adequate funding and probably a little bit of luck," she said.

The zoo's captive breeding program has five healthy birds, which are monitored around the clock.

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