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Indigenous rangers play key role in protecting "world's most elusive bird"

Giovanni Torre -

Five Indigenous ranger groups have gathered at Bush Heritage's Special Wildlife Reserve Pullen Pullen in Queensland to share knowledge about the Night Parrot which was rediscovered in 2013 after it was thought to be extinct.

Known as "the planet's most elusive bird", the Night Parrot garnered so much interest when it was rediscovered in western Queensland that the exact location of its habitat was a closely guarded secret to protect the bird.

Only around eight to ten Night Parrots are thought to nest on Pullen Pullen, however, numerous ranger groups in Western Australia have also reported sightings of the bird, which is ground-dwelling and only active at night.

Bush Heritage ecologist Dr Nick Leseberg said the population at Pullen Pullen "is relatively small but where the birds are being found in Western Australia is across a much larger area and they're being found on Indigenous land".

"The future of the Night Parrot rests in all our hands but rangers are going to be a really important part of it because they're going to have more Night Parrots on their country than just about anywhere else."

The gathering, facilitated by Bush Heritage, included representatives from the Indigenous Desert Alliance, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and the Central Land Council Warlpiri Ranger, Kiwirkurra Ranger, Ngururrpa Ranger and Punmu Ranger groups.

Ngururrpa Ranger Clifford Sunfly, who is based in Balgo, said: "We are all learning together."

"It's better working together because we can all let other rangers know ... and share tips and advice to protect country and protect the Night Parrot," he said.

Punmu ranger Travis Sammy marks Night Parrot ranger on a map of WA. Image: Lachlan Gardiner.

Pullen Pullen Reserve on Maiawali Country, five hours from Longreach, was purchased by Bush Heritage in 2016 to protect the Night Parrot's critical habitat. In 2020 the Queensland government declared Pullen Pullen the state's first special wildlife reserve, which provides the 56,000 hectare reserve with the same protection as a national park.

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