Thursday 20 October 2016

'Holy grail' search for rare night parrot finally ends

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30

The team has named the parrot 'Pedro'. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The team has named the parrot 'Pedro'. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

For more than a century, it has been known as the "holy grail" of birdwatching - a mysterious tiny species seen only by a handful of people since it was discovered fluttering across the Australian bush 160 years ago.

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The night parrot was described as one of the world's most elusive creatures by conservationists who spent decades trying to confirm its existence.

But the search has finally ended, with a declaration yesterday by researchers who said they had captured the bird for the first time after an 18-month hunt in a 56,000-hectare stretch of the outback.

The largely ground-dwelling bird was found in remote western Queensland by Dr Steve Murphy, an ornithologist. The exact location has been kept secret to prevent poaching or potential damage from birdwatchers.

"When we had the bird, it was terrible to be honest, there was an enormous responsibility," said Dr Murphy. "But since then we have looked at each other and gone, 'Wow, we really did it.'"

The team has named it 'Pedro', although it has not been verified whether it is male or female.

"For as long as we can, we'll keep it as secret as we can. It's a critical thing that we do everything that we can to save this species to bring it back from the brink of extinction," said Rob Murphy, from the conservation group Bush Heritage Australia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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