Feature

Baudin’s black cockatoo

G Magazine

A taste for forbidden fruit for the gregarious Baudin’s cockatoo could see the endangered species go extinct soon.

Baudins-cockatoo

Credit: Simon Cherriman - courtesy of WWF-Australia

Apples-with-cockatoo-damage

Apples showing cockatoo damage.

Credit: Rick Dawson DEC

Illegally-shot-black-cockatoos

X-ray of illegally shot Baudin's cockatoos.

Credit: Rick Dawson DEC

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Sporting a long beak and broad white tail feathers contrasting with its dusky black body, the gregarious Baudin’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) is a distinctive icon in the extreme south-west region of Western Australia. But a taste for forbidden fruit could see the endangered species become extinct within a few decades.

Having developed a voracious appetite for apples and pears as their natural food sources have declined, the birds are responsible for an estimated $3.5 million in lost revenue to the local fruit industry. Some angry farmers have taken to shooting the birds, which they regard as pests.

According to official estimates, around 200 birds are shot each year, but the unreported numbers are likely to
be much higher. A simple, effective solution is exclusion netting, but at $20,000-$40,000 per hectare, this isn’t a viable option for individual farmers.

The World Wildlife Fund-Australia is campaigning for state government subsidies, similar to those which funded the installation of netting on farms affected by fruit bats on the east coast. Netting has the added benefits of preventing damage to crops from storms, hail, wind, sun and disease.

To report illegal activity call the Wildcare 24-hour hotline in WA on (08) 9474 9055.