Cockatoos Being Tracked After 50 Percent Decline in Population

26 Jul 2016

WA’s Carnaby’s cockatoos’ movements are now being tracked through new technology ever since there was a 50 percent decline of the bird’s population over the past 50 years.

A team from Life Sciences and Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary are involved in the Black Cockatoo Ecology Project to halt this decline.

Injured wild Carnaby’s cockatoos are being tagged by researchers and are brought back to the Perth Zoo later to be rehabilitated.

Although threatened species have always been tagged, the technology that helps researchers determine the movements and activities of the species is something new. This offers researchers a better understanding of which habitats is the best.

Under anesthesia, satellite transmitters are glued and sutured onto the two feathers of the central tail. The GPS tracker device, which is solar-powered, is then attached on the cockatoos back feathers through a panel.

They are then marked for tracking and identification purposes.  The whole procedure lasts for around 40 minutes.

Each cockatoo is giving a silver leg tag with an individual number and has their feathers marked. The goal of this procedure is to identify critical breeding and feeding habits while the birds are out in the wild in order to help conserve the species.

According to Researcher Associate Professor Kris Warren, if they have a better understanding of how the birds use their habitat, they can then work on conserving that particular habitat in order to save the endangered species.

Data is gathered eight times a day by the satellite transmitter and other data is provided every 10 minutes by the GPS tracking device.

Dr Jill Shephard said the bird’s movements at that precise time are captured on images in 3-dimensional space. Whether the birds are roosting, eating, flying or on the ground drinking water, the data received has a high level of detail which helps researchers to make more informed decisions for their plans for conservation.

Currently, there are 24 cockatoos that are tagged and being tracked and the study is planned to continue for the next 5 years.

GPS tracking has been utilized for quite some time to help people track their belongings, vehicles, and even loved ones. Now, these tracking devices can help track and save endangered wildlife species.

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