National recovery plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2002

1. Current Conservation Status

The Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris, Sclater 1869) is listed on Schedule 1 (Part 1) of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act) as an Endangered Species. It is listed as Vulnerable on Schedule 1 (Part 2) of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The species is classified as Endangered by the IUCN (Baillie and Groombridge 1996).

The Lord Howe Woodhen is endemic to Lord Howe Island, a part of NSW located about 700 km north-east of Sydney in the south-west Pacific Ocean. Originally described as 'common' in the early 1800s, the number of Woodhen had declined to 37 by the late 1970s, restricted to the high plateau of Mount Gower in the southern mountains of the island (Miller and Kingston 1980). This decline heightened concern for the species' future and prompted the implementation of a rehabilitation program. This program included the elimination of feral Pigs (Sus scrofa) from Lord Howe Island and a very productive captive breeding and release program for the Woodhen. As a result of this program, one of the most successful ever implemented for any bird species, the wild population increased between 1980 and 1985 by over 100 to 140 individuals in at least three geographically discrete populations. In April 2002 monitoring survey, 127 individuals were counted, not including the Little Slope site which was not surveyed due to weather conditions (see Section 3.2).