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Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • Over 100,000 individuals in the wild (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
  • Total population stable (Elliott and Kirwan 2017) or slowly decreasing (BirdLife International 2016)
  • Considered common (Jones et al. 1995)

Conservation Status

IUCN

  • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (BirdLife International 2016)
    • Range is large
    • Population size is large
  • Previous assessments (BirdLife International 2016)
    • 2012: Least Concern
    • 2009: Least Concern
    • 2008: Least Concern
    • 2004: Least Concern
    • 2000: Lower Risk/least concern
    • 1994: Lower Risk/least concern
    • 1988: Lower Risk/least concern

CITES

  • Not listed (as of February 2018) (UNEP 2018)

Government laws and regulations

  • Protected as a native species of Australia since 1918 (Jones and Göth 2008, except as noted)
    • Birds and Animals Protection Act 1918
      • Prior to this, the Australian Brush-turkey was a preferred game bird (Göth et al. 2006)
        • Game Protection Act 1866 helps to curb illegal hunting
    • Still hunted, but habitat destruction poses a greater threat
  • Mounds cannot be destroyed if they contain eggs or chicks (Jones and Göth 2008)
    • Includes those in suburban gardens
  • One isolated population in New South Wales is considered Endangered (Jones and Göth 2008)

Threats to Survival

Habitat loss and degradation

  • Distribution of this species has been reduced (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
    • Causes
      • Forest clearing (i.e., for livestock) (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
      • Habitat fragmentation (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
      • Changes in fire regimes (Jones and Göth 2008)

Predation

Hunting

(Jones and Göth 2008, except as noted)

  • Protected as a native species of Australia
    • See “Government laws and regulations,” above
  • Historically, adult birds and their eggs were eaten by settlers
    • “Their flesh is very excellent, and they are hunted to such an extent that their extermination is only a question of time.” (The Brush Turkey... 1887)
    • Hunting led to local extinctions in some areas (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
    • Eggs were also harvested by Aboriginal peoples (Jones and Göth 2008)

Sydney's Suburbia

Brush-turkey walk on yard fence

In suburban settings, Brush-turkeys will make themselves at home in a yard or on a roof.

Image credit: © John Turnbull via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial License 2.0. Some rights reserved.

Image location: Sydney, Australia

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