Sheoak on the menu for Kangaroo Island glossy-black cockatoos

MIDDLE RIVER: Landholders with staff member, Torran Welz, at a Middle River planting
site that will provide habitat for glossies and help erosion control on steep
slopes.
MIDDLE RIVER: Landholders with staff member, Torran Welz, at a Middle River planting site that will provide habitat for glossies and help erosion control on steep slopes.

The endangered glossy-black cockatoo was given a leg-up when drooping sheoak seedlings were planted by groups of volunteers on 44 different Kangaroo Island properties between May and August this year.

The sheoaks will be providing multiple benefits - they'll be a great source of feeding habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo while also acting as windbreaks and erosion control on properties.

"The glossy-black cockatoos have lost 54% of their feeding habitat in the summer bushfires. Much of this habitat will grow back from seed over 15-20 years, however sheoak does not respond well to hot fires so some areas may grow back more sparse. This is something the recovery program staff are currently investigating", said KI Landscape Board Project Officer, Karleah Berris.

The KI Landscape Board Native Plant Nursery grew 6000 sheoak seedlings thanks to funding donated directly to the Nature Foundation Glossy-black Cockatoo Recovery Program, as well as funds provided by the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, Natural Focus Safaris, and the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia.

A further 1150 sheoak seedlings were donated by not-for-profit, BioR, which enabled Glossy-black Cockatoo Recovery Program staff to distribute 7150 sheoak seedlings in total.

NEW SEEDLINGS: New sheoak seedlings being planted near Karatta.

NEW SEEDLINGS: New sheoak seedlings being planted near Karatta.

Sarah Kemp, whose property is on the Eleanor River in Seddon, said the planting was a wonderful experience.

"This year we planted 500 sheoaks on our property thanks to the Glossy-black Recovery Program. It was a wonderful day with around 30 volunteers helping," Mrs Kemp said.

"It was particularly special as we were joined by renowned Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri, Narrunga artist, Cedric Varcoe, and his family to help with planting."

Cedric's Ngartji - totem, friend, countryman, protector - is the glossy-black cockatoo, she said.

"After the planting, KI Landscape Board staff, Mike Barth and Torran Welz, took us to see a female fledgling being banded," Mrs Kemp said.

"While there, a large group of around 20 glossies flew over the top of us. This was the first time Cedric has seen his Ngartji in the wild....it was an emotional moment."

Planted sheoak can produce seed for glossies in as little as 5-10 years.

This means that the seedlings planted by the program over the next five years will be available as a food source faster than the regenerating burnt woodlands.

To support further work like this that assists in glossy-black cockatoo recovery, please consider donating to the Glossy-black Cockatoo Rescue Fund with Nature Foundation at bit.ly/33dYNeW

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