Regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) are a small (30g-45g), critically endangered, passerine species endemic to south eastern Australia. Once widely distributed across the woodland belt from South Australia to southern Queensland, it is now believed to be locally extinct in South Australia and western Victoria and rare in Queensland, with numbers as low as 300-400 individuals across the their remaining range. The overarching cause of decline is the fragmentation and loss of eucalypt woodland habitat. In recent history southern Australia has experienced extensive clearing of woodland and conversion to agricultural land and sheep grazing pastures. The resulting dramatic decline in numbers of Regent Honeyeater led to the formation of a national Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team in 1994 which is a collaborative project between Birdlife Australia, Taronga Zoo, the Australian Government, the New South Wales and Victorian state Governments with external contributions from academic researchers and volunteer community groups.
A captive breeding programme started at Taronga Zoo, Sydney in 1995 when 18 young nestlings were taken from the wild. In 2008 27 birds were released in Chiltern Mt -Pilot National Park, Victoria. Three subsequent release to this site have occurred, 44 in 2010, 38 in 2013 and 77 in 2015. Chiltern Mt-Pilot National Park is 21,600 ha of primarily regrowth open box-ironbark forest located in north eastern Victoria. This woodland is characterised by dominant species such as mugga ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), red stringybark (E. macrorhyncha) and box eucalypts (E. albens, E. macrocarpa and E. polyanthemos). We have been involved with the Regent Honeyeater project since 2014 when John and Stefano helped facilitate a Disease Risk Analysis Workshop held at Taronga Zoo. Gemma also joined the project in 2014 and has been monitoring released Regent Honeyeaters and working to assess the success of past and current recovery efforts. Gemma’s PHD project hopes to apply decision analytic tools to assist in future recovery planning for this species.
For more information on our involvement please check out the collection of relevant news posts below or contact us for more information.