Conservation of the malleefowl: are there lessons from the successful conservation of native mammals by intensive fox control?
Short, J. (2004) Conservation of the malleefowl: are there lessons from the successful conservation of native mammals by intensive fox control? In: Proceedings of the National Malleefowl Forum, 6 - 9 February, Mildura, Vic, Australia pp. 54-68.
Malleefowl and other ground-nesting birds have shown substantial contractions in range over the 200 years of European settlement and are believed to be at ongoing risk of further declines. One factor implicated in the decline of ground-nesting birds in general, and Malleefowl in particular, is predation by the introduced fox (Saunders et al. 1995: 126; Benshemesh 2000). However, these declines, as worrying as they may be, are dwarfed by the extent of decline among native mammals (Woinarski and Braithwaite 1990). At least eighteen species of mammal are extinct, many species that were formerly widespread now survive only on offshore islands, and many others persist only in small remnant populations. Recent management action to conserve mammals has been highly successful leading to substantial recoveries of local populations and the establishment of new populations by reintroduction. It may be that lessons learned in the conservation of mammals may be transferable to the conservation of the Malleefowl and other ground-nesting birds. This paper explores the historical parallels in the diagnosis of threatening factors in the decline of mammals and the decline of the Malleefowl, highlights recent successes in the conservation of mammals, and examines the evidence for and against a prominent role of foxes in the decline of Malleefowl.
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