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Endangered status a concern for the Cape

Four Cape York animal species, including the beloved Palm Cockatoo, were moved to endangered and critically endangered status by the Queensland Government last week. 

The Australian subspecies of Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus macgillivrayi), one of the largest parrots in Australia and only found on Cape York Peninsula, has been moved from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered'. 

Three other Cape York species, the Jardine River turtle, the McIlwraith leaf-tailed gecko and the Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko, have been moved from 'vulnerable' to 'critically endangered'. 

A threatened species is any plant or animal species that is at risk of extinction, and is rated through the QLD Nature Conservation Act 1992 into wildlife classes of: 

  • Extinct
  • Extinct in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable

The latest changes were made to the species listings under Amendments to the QLD Nature Conservation (Animals) Regulation 2020.

Cape York NRM CEO John Gavin said the news was worrying, and organisations and government had to pool together to introduce targeted approaches to protect these creatures. 

“The Palm Cockatoo faces a number of challenges to survive in its habitat on Cape York, especially in relation to fire management, land-clearing and erosion, and a low breeding success rate,” he said. 

“This is where natural resource management comes into it. Cape York NRM runs specific projects to protect threatened species by working with people who live on the Cape and increasing their knowledge and skills - for example, we work with graziers, landholders and traditional owners on fire management and gully erosion mitigation; turtle nest protection programs; and feral pig eradication programs.”

The Palm Cockatoo, also known as the goliath cockatoo or great black cockatoo, is known for its unique drumming of sticks against trees. It is also listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)

The latest list is not all bad news for the region. The Humpback whale’s endangered status has moved from 'Vulnerable' to 'Least Concern' and the plant species Albizia sp. (Windsor Tableland B. Gray 2181) has also moved to 'Least Concern'.