Evidence of one of world’s rarest birds found in Australia

The freshness of the zebra finch nest where the night parrot feather was found indicates it may have been collected 'within a few hundred metres in the past few weeks', said expert John Young. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2017
0

Evidence of one of world’s rarest birds found in Australia

SYDNEY:A feather from one of the most elusive birds in the world has been found in South Australia, the first proof in more than a century that it lives there, wildlife experts said Thursday.
The “night parrot” ranks among the world’s rarest avian species and was thought extinct until an intrepid Australian naturalist provided photo evidence of one in Queensland state in 2013.
It has since also been spotted in Western Australia.
The expert behind the Queensland sighting, John Young, and fellow ecologist Keith Bellchambers from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy have now shown it is also in South Australia.
The pair found a feather from the small, yellowish-green bird in the nest of a zebra finch around remote Lake Eyre while following up on blurry images from a camera trap in the area.
“Keith and I looked at many zebra finches’ nests before finally an unmistakable small green feather appeared within the fresh base lining of one of the nests,” said Young.
“People show excitement in many different ways, mine was to shake uncontrollably with numbing excitement and Keith’s was sheer disbelief with his hands holding his head. An incredibly emotional time for both of us.
“In my eyes there was no doubt that this was the feather of a night parrot.”
The freshness of the zebra finch nest indicates the feather may have been collected “within a few hundred meters in the past few weeks,” Young added.
The curator of ornithology at the Western Australian Museum confirmed their find.
The next step is to map the distribution of the species, which was last recorded at Lake Eyre in 1883, and assess the population size using song meters and camera traps, said Young.
Researchers feared for decades that the nocturnal, desert-dwelling parrot was extinct, with no sightings between 1912 and 1979 and only a handful since, before the conclusive evidence in 2013.
In 2012, the Smithsonian Magazine rated it at number one among the world’s five most mysterious birds.
Endemic to Australia, it is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which estimates there are about 50-250 in the wild and declining.


West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

Updated 20 June 2018
0

West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

  • The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle.”
  • The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.

LONDON: London theatergoers used to spectating in comfort are in for a rude awakening after the authors of a play swapped the traditional plush velvet seating for wooden benches and covered the floor with soil to simulate the feel of a migrant camp.
The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle,” whose authors hope their play will stoke debate about migration.
“People often hold strong opinions about this subject because it doesn’t seem to have any immediate answer,” said Joe Murphy, 27, who co-wrote the play.
“Discussion is the only think that is going to get us forward ... and hopefully this play can provide some of that space for debate,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Co-author Joe Robertson said the pair had “tried to depict both the terrible conditions that existed in the Jungle camp, but also the hope that existed in that place.”
Up to 10,000 people seeking ways to reach Britain used to live in the giant slum before it was cleared by authorities in late 2016.
Immigration remains a major political issue across Europe, as well as in the United States, where the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border has caused an international outcry.
Several European leaders including those of France, Germany, Italy and Austria are to hold talks on Sunday to explore how to stop people from moving around the European Union after claiming asylum in one of the Mediterranean states of arrival.
Murphy and Robertson, 28, based the script on their experience as volunteers in Calais, where they ran a temporary theater within the camp.
The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.
“There were 25 different nationalities of people all forced to live side by side often on top of each other and the phenomenal story about that place was people did make an effort to come together,” said Robertson.
Theatre-goers are invited to seat at the tables of the camp’s makeshift Afghan café, where the action unfolds.
“The closer you are to the audience the better the message is delivered,” said actor Ammar Hajj Ahmad, who plays one of the leading characters.
Ahmad, from Syria, is one of many actors from a refugee background featured in the play. Several asylum-seekers the authors met in Calais are also part of the cast.
“I am proud of this, I love telling stories ... about the many people who lived in Calais,” said cast-member Mohamed Sarrar, a musician from Sudan who arrived in Britain two years ago.
The play, which premiered at another London theater The Young Vic, last year, runs from July 5 to November.