New state-of-the-art radio tracking technology has been deployed at central Queensland’s Carmichael coal mine project to monitor the endangered southern black-throated finch.

Key points:

  • Bravus, formerly Adani, says there are between 641 and 2,202 endangered black-throated finches within a 60,000-hectare area
  • New radio-tracking technology will be used to study where the birds travel
  • Bravus says it will guide the company’s environmental management practices

The bird has been at the centre of environmentalists’ concerns about the Bravus, formerly Adani, mine, with claims it would destroy some of the best remaining habitat for the bird.

In a statement, Bravus Mining and Resources CEO David Boshoff said ecologists had fitted the birds with leg ID bands and tiny transmitters, which emit a signal every 13 seconds, and are tracked by a series of 27 radio towers across the project area.

“This new research is taking place in our 33,000-hectare conservation area, which is one of the largest privately owned conservation areas in the country, and is the size of 33,000 football fields. The research is also occurring across the mining lease,” Mr Boshoff said.

“The radio tracking data will tell us more about how far the finches travel and where they live and will help guide our environmental management practices into the future.

“We’re looking at the finch’s movement patterns, the foraging behaviour, foraging preferences and the seed availability, and we’re trying to tie that all into land management practices.”

A close up of a hand holding three very small tags coloured yellow, blue and red

Bravus is placing leg tags on the birds to track their movements. (

Supplied: Bravus

)

Bravus’s monitoring program is part of the species management plan the company had to sign with the state government to allow the project to go ahead.

Mr Boshoff said Bravus’s full population estimate of the bird species would be completed by 2024, but previous third-party studies for the company estimated there were about 641 to 2,202 finches across 102 sites over a 60,000-hectare area.

A photo from the ground looking up to a mid-sized radio antenna, with a blue sky in the background

Twenty-seven radio towers have been set up to pick up signals from the tags.(

Supplied: Bravus

)

“Our research is delivered by third-party experts, who hold both Australian and Queensland government permits to conduct the research and safely monitor the finch, so we are confident in the information and evidence they have provided us,” he said.

“We are happy to share it with everyone so we can provide the facts and dispel the myths.”

Calls for habitat to be conserved

The Mackay Conservation Group has been campaigning about the plight of the finch for several years, and coordinator Peter McCallum said the group believed conservation was the best way to protect the species, not more research.

“It used to exist all the way from around Cooktown, all the way down into New South Wales, but it’s now really restricted,” Mr McCallum said.

“There are two populations, one of which is around the Adani mine site and the other is just south of Townsville.

He said the bird species began to decline with European settlement in the area.

A hand holding a black-throated finch

The monitoring is part of the management plan that was required by the approvals process for the mine.(

Supplied: Bravus

)

“Its habitat has greatly been reduced over the past hundreds of years, not because of the actions by Adani, but others,” Mr McCallum said.

“The bird feeds on seeds from grasses that are found on alluvial floodplains, so it likes the country that cattle farmers also like.

Endangered southern black-throated finch to be monitored at Bravus mine site
Source:
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