By Ian Hinze
The subspecies, known as Coxen's fig parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni), has virtually disappeared from the wild. Surveys undertaken to locate the bird have yielded only a few brief sightings, as well as signs of past nesting activity. Not one active nest has been discovered and the bird cannot be found on a repeatable basis anywhere.
Dr. Ian Gynther, Senior Conservation Officer of the southern region of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Australia, is involved in a national recovery program for this critically endangered subspecies.
Gynther's team is heavily reliant on members of the public reporting incidental sightings, so much effort has been put into a community education program. Because this fig parrot has probably never been photographed and there are no known sound recordings of its calls, this situation is rather desperate.
A major aim of the recovery program is to undertake captive breeding as insurance against the subspecies becoming extinct. Thus far, husbandry techniques have been refined using a closely related taxon, the red-browed fig parrot (C. d. macleayana), from the northern part of Australia. However, the recovery program has been hindered because of a lack of source Coxen's fig parrots from the wild.
To compound the problem, it is unknown if the Coxen's fig parrot exists in captivity anywhere in the world. Gynther is desperate to hear from anyone with information on this. Any birds currently held in captivity could play an invaluable role in the team's conservation efforts within the parrot's natural range in Australia. Members of the recovery team are extremely interested in discussing possible collaborative work with any aviculturists fortunate enough to be holding any in their collection. Photographs of Coxen's fig parrot are also most welcomed.
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank my Danish colleague, Peter Them, of Parrot Data News, for supplying me with information on this critical conservation project and allowing me to publicize it. If you happen to have any Coxen's fig parrots, or know someone who does, and would like to help, please contact Peter via E-mail at: email@example.com.