Celebrating 27 years of Ibis management

Celebrating 27 years of Ibis Management

The Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is one of three native species of ibis found in Australia and is protected under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 and New South Wales Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Unnaturally large numbers of ibis are now found in many urban environments along the east coast of Australia, primarily because of easy access to abundant food sources such as some waste landfills and public feeding, which can result in public complaints, present an aviation safety hazard and impact negatively on biodiversity. There are also risks to public health and production animals. 

To address these issues, the Ibis Management Coordination Group (IMCG) initiated a coordinated regional approach to ibis management within the Gold Coast and Tweed Shire local government areas (LGAs) in 1996. The purpose of this program (which now extends to other LGAs in south east Queensland) is to manage the negative impacts from large numbers of ibis yet retain a stable regional population of this charismatic native Australian species. The ibis population for the region is identified based on the results of the annual census, where all known roosting ibis are counted. 

For the last 27 years, Ecosure has been completing an annual census in the areas we complete ibis management. During October, we count all known ibis roost sites to gage the ibis population size, which will help direct ibis management efforts for the year ahead. It is vital that the ibis numbers don’t decline to a point they are regionally at risk of over management, but we also want to make sure numbers do not get too high, thereby causing health concerns for the ibis, the local environment and human safety.  

Since the program’s commencement in 1996, the IMCG (both the Southern and Northern Regions) has held 137 meetings and completed more than fifty aerial surveys for the annual census.

 The main conclusions from 27 years of ibis management include: 

  • ongoing monitoring remains essential to ensure that strategies are effective and appropriate 
  • reduction in waste availability i.e. use of bird proof bins and landfill closure (i.e. anthropogenic food source) leads to a reduction in ibis numbers and limits their breeding capacity 
  • active dispersal of ibis is an effective management tool to reduce ibis numbers at landfills 
  • vegetation management and habitat modification are effective in restricting ibis habitat and reducing breeding effort 
  • concurrent and collaborative regional management that includes multiple strategies is crucial to achieve ibis population targets 
  • ongoing ibis management across the LGAs is essential. 

As the facilitators for the IMCG, Ecosure coordinates the monitoring, data, stakeholders and meetings for this long running group. We now coordinate and monitor the ibis management from the NSW border extending up to Sunshine Coast, with additional sites as far away as Adelaide, Rockhampton and Sydney.   Ibis don’t recognise Council boundaries so we work closely with neighbouring landholders to coordinate ibis management with fantastic outcomes for ibis and people.

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