Mallee emu-wren making a comeback in Ngarkat Conservation Park

COMEBACK: The Mallee emu-wren was declared extinct in South Australia in 2014 due to bush fires, but work is being done to re-establish the species in Ngarkat Conservation Park. Photo: Monarto Zoo.
COMEBACK: The Mallee emu-wren was declared extinct in South Australia in 2014 due to bush fires, but work is being done to re-establish the species in Ngarkat Conservation Park. Photo: Monarto Zoo.

One of the country's most threatened bird species is looking to be re-established in Ngarkat Conservation Park.

The nationally endangered Mallee emu-wren was re-introduced to the park in winter last year, after the species was declared extinct in South Australia due to bush fires in 2014.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin said the small bird has been listed as one of the 20 priority threatened bird species by the Australian Government in their Australian Threatened Species Strategy.

The strategy is a five year action plan that uses an action-based approach to protect and recover key threatened species.

In 2018, a project was created to move 60-80 Mallee emu-wrens from Victoria's Murray Sunset and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks back into Ngarkat Conservation Park, to re-establish the lost population.

The project saw the re-introduced birds dispersed throughout the park, reducing the risk of losing the entire population.

"Adopting a translocation strategy reduces the risk of losing the remaining populations in a single wildfire event, by re-establishing a geographically dispersed population," Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin said.

Monash University PhD student William Mitchell is currently working to ensure the Mallee emu-wren has a sustainable future.

Mr Mitchell is undertaking field work in the park to find out more about the elusive species and said it's important to gather information about the species.

"We mainly just want to know as much as we can about the species because we can't make effective management decisions for them, unless we know what's going on."

To help preserve the species for generations to come, an interesting new technique is being used to help monitor the population.

"The thing I'm particularly interested in and working on at the moment is around using audio recorders as a tool to monitor them out in the bush," Mr Mitchell said.

More work needs to be done, but Mr Mitchell and others will continue to give the species the best chance of thriving again in Ngarkat Conservation Park.