Renewed hope for critically endangered wildlife emblem

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Andrews’ Labor Government is securing the future of the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater, with 18 birds moved to their new forest home today.

Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio celebrated the release of the birds to a special patch of forest in the Yarra Ranges National Park, home to one of two wild populations of the state wildlife emblem.

Only 250 Helmeted Honeyeaters currently exist in the wild.

From a breeding program at the Healesville Sanctuary, the birds join the 32 helmeted honeyeaters who founded the second site east of Warburton in August last year.

The new habitat is crucial for the survival of the Helmeted Honeyeater, as it increases genetic diversity, protects the species from disease and environmental disasters such as bushfires.

Since 1989, the combined efforts of the Victorian government and a host of conservation partners have prevented the extinction of this charismatic bird and seen the last remaining wild population grow from just 25 to 250 birds.

Three chicks have already hatched successfully in the new wild population, raising hopes for the long-term survival of the species.

New residents were fitted with tiny radio transmitters so they could be closely monitored. Later this month, several other birds reared at the Healesville Sanctuary will also be released into the Yellingbo Nature Conservancy to further increase genetic diversity.

The Helmeted Honeyeater is a Victorian wildlife emblem, with the Leadbeater’s Opossum, the Labor Government contributing $2 million through the Wildlife Emblem Program from 2021 to 2023.

Since 2018, nearly $4 million in funding has gone towards improving the long-term durability of the Helmeted Honeyeater and Leadbeater’s Possum.

The government has invested more than $560 million in biodiversity protection since 2014 – more than any other in Victorian history.

As Minister of Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said

“To see this rare bird in the wild is truly remarkable, and a sight that future generations of Victorians should be able to see one day.”

“We are making record investments in biodiversity, regenerating our precious native species and restoring habitats to ensure our wildlife emblem can thrive again in the wild.

As stated by Zoos Victoria’s lead conservationist, Dr Dan Harley

“It is a privilege to be able to release 18 of these critically endangered Victorian birds into their new wild habitat, and we are all delighted to see them producing more fledglings later this year.”

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