SYDNEY, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — A small Australian bird species hit by bush fires in South Australia has surprised ecologists by quickly breeding after an unprecedented effort to relocate the birds, local media reported on Saturday.
The Mallee emu-wren is found in only two core locations in Victoria and South Australia states, but severe bush fires four years ago destroyed their southern habitat, reported the ABC news channel.
“We could never officially say they were extinct because there’s so much habitat out there,” local government ecologist Chris Hedger told the channel.
“But we were very confident that if there were any individuals left, it was functionally extinct and would not be able to survive in the long term.”
Earlier this year, wildlife groups and authorities relocated about 80 of the birds from their Victoria habitats to a conservation park in South Australia to help boost their numbers.
A recent survey showed that the birds, known for their distinctive reddish-brown heads, sky blue chests and long tails, are thriving in their habitats with significant numbers breeding, reported the channel.
“Certainly the fact they are breeding is a good indicator of what we might expect,” said Hedger.
“No one has ever moved this species, and if they have moved a similar species, it certainly wasn’t in the numbers we’re talking about.”
The next phase of the conservation project includes moving another 200 of the birds to the park, added Hedger.
“They might move to different locations, but the idea is to get a really strong, prosperous community of emu-wren there … they can go forth and prosper in the decades to come.”