The South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Playful. Loud. Friendly. Energetic. Handsome. Cheeky. Endangered. That's Karak, the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) who is the Official Mascot of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games (15-26 March 2006).
With the moniker 'Karak' - after his distinctive birdcall - this native bird was chosen because he embodies the spirit of the Games. He is uniquely Australian and welcoming to all. His gregarious nature and rugged good looks make Karak the perfect Mascot to unite city and bush.
Karak's younger cousin, Karak Junior, was hatched at Healesville Sanctuary on 26 March 2004. Coincidentally, this very special Red-tailed Black Cockatoo's birthday is the same date as the Closing Ceremony of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is threatened with extinction. Fewer than 1000 remain, living in small pockets of native woodland in Victoria's west, between Portland and the Little Desert. Estimates put the number of mating pairs at around 300. And despite extensive rescue efforts, their numbers continue to fall.
The future of this cockatoo depends on trees. He feeds almost entirely on the seeds of Brown Stringybarks and Bulokes. Since settlement, 60% of Stringybarks and 98% of Bulokes have been cleared for agriculture.
The bird will usually only nest in hollowed-out eucalypts. He particularly favours dead River Red Gums in farmed paddocks. And these trees usually need to be within 2km of the food source. Dead eucalypts are often cleared for firewood, or felled to make way for farm forestry or cropping.
In his role as Official Mascot, Karak is promoting the Games, and spreading the word about the importance of preserving old growth trees for nesting and feeding. Through Karak, and his little cousin Karak Junior, the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games aims to work in conjunction with the Victorian Government and Healesville Sanctuary to raise awareness of the plight of this stunning bird. With your help, he hopes to continue flying with his mates for generations to come.
How can people help protect the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo?
Farmers are working with both the Australian and Victorian Governments, and local communities, to preserve and increase its habitat.
The most important step is the protection of existing Stringybark and Buloke trees. All grazing stock should be fenced out to prevent ringbarking and promote natural revegetation. Eucalypt trees with hollows should also be protected for nesting sites.
Once a year, volunteers gather in western Victoria to count the elusive cockatoo. Any sightings can be reported to a toll-free hotline: 1800 262 062.
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team
The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team is a body of representatives from Birds Australia, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Environment and Heritage, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority, Local Government, Adelaide University, and local residents. Follow their research into protecting the bird and its environment at their Website.
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