26 April 2024

Partnership gives flight to western Cape palm cockatoo research

| Cape York Weekly
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A research collaboration between Rio Tinto, Australian National University and Wildlife Warriors will focus on knowledge gaps in the western Cape York population of the iconic palm cockatoo. Photo: Sean Craven.

A research program to better understand and protect Cape York’s iconic and endangered palm cockatoo has taken flight through a partnership between Rio Tinto, Australian National University (ANU) and Wildlife Warriors.

Over the next four years, ANU PhD student Andrew O’Neill will conduct research across Rio Tinto’s Weipa mining lease and the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, with the aim of addressing important knowledge gaps on the western Cape York palm cockatoo population.

Rio Tinto Weipa operations general manager Shona Markham said the mining giant was proud to work with ANU and Wildlife Warriors to help ensure a long-term future of the cockatoo.

“I’m pleased to announce that we will be working with ANU and Wildlife Warriors, to better inform our conservation and land management activities, ensuring the continued protection of this incredible species,” she said.

“These collaborative efforts ensure that leading conservation science informs our decisions and helps bring balanced perspectives, innovation and best practice in the way that we operate,” she said.

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ANU professor Robert Heinsohn said the research collaboration would “find the missing pieces” in the palm cockatoo conservation puzzle.

“This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our efforts to study the endangered palm cockatoo population in Cape York,” he said.

“While our research on the palm cockatoo spans over 20 years, the majority of our findings have been concentrated on the east side of Cape York, leaving a substantial gap in our understanding of the species on the western side.

“The partnership with Rio Tinto and Wildlife Warriors is invaluable, as it enables us to find the missing pieces of the puzzle essential for the conservation of palm cockatoos.”

Wildlife conservationist Terri Irwin welcomed the partnership, and said she believed it would go a long way to protecting future generations of the cockatoo.

“Wildlife Warriors is looking forward to collaborating … to better understand this species and work towards protecting them for future generations,” she said.

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