National recovery plan for Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata)
Current taxon status
Nationally, the Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata is listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 and this classification is consistent with international standards (IUCN 2001, criteria VU A1c,e and A2b,c,e). The Malleefowl occurs in all mainland states except Queensland and is recognised as threatened wherever it occurs. The species is listed as Critically Endangered in the Northern Territory, Endangered in New South Wales and Victoria, Vulnerable in South Australia, and as Fauna That Is Rare Or Is Likely To Become Extinct in Western Australia.
Habitat requirements and limiting factors
The Malleefowl is found in semi-arid to arid shrublands and low woodlands, especially those dominated by mallee and/or acacias. A sandy substrate and abundance of leaf litter are required for breeding. Densities of the birds are generally greatest in areas of higher rainfall and on more fertile soils where habitats tend to be thicker and there is an abundance of food plants. Much of the best habitat for Malleefowl has already been cleared or has been modified by grazing by sheep, cattle, rabbits and goats. The species has been shown to be highly sensitive to grazing by sheep, and is probably similarly sensitive to grazing by other introduced herbivores. The effect of fire on Malleefowl is severe, and breeding in burnt areas is usually reduced for at least 30 years. However, the deleterious effect of fire appears to be mitigated if fires burn patchily. Predation by the introduced fox is also thought to be limiting the abundance of Malleefowl and in many areas may be a major cause of decline. The degree of fragmentation of the remaining Malleefowl habitat is of particular concern and presents a major limiting factor to halting and reversing the decline of the species.
Recovery Plan Objectives
The primary objectives of this plan are to secure existing populations across the species’ range and achieve de-listing of Malleefowl under the EPBC Act within 20 years.
- Reduce permanent habitat loss
- Reduce the threat of grazing pressure on Malleefowl populations
- Reduce fire threats
- Reduce predation
- Reduce isolation of fragmented populations
- Promote Malleefowl-friendly agricultural practices
- Reduce Malleefowl mortality on roads
Planning, research and monitoring
- Provide information for regional planning
- Monitor Malleefowl and develop an adaptive management framework
- Determine the current distribution of Malleefowl
- Examine population dynamics: longevity, recruitment and parentage
- Describe habitat requirements that determine Malleefowl abundance
- Define appropriate genetic units for management of Malleefowl
- Assess captive breeding and re-introduction of Malleefowl
- Investigate infertility and agrochemicals
Community involvement and project coordination
- Facilitate communication between groups
- Raise public awareness through education and publicity
- Manage the recovery process
Estimated cost of recovery
This recovery plan outlines actions for improving the conservation status of Malleefowl for a five-year period. Cost estimates have been provided for each action, with the exception of Actions 1-7, which form part of broader conservation programs, or are dependent on identification of priorities at regional and local scales (see Action 8.1). Over one third of the projected costs may be covered by voluntary contributions from community groups involved in a range of activities. Asterisks indicate where volunteer contributions (VC) are likely to be greatest.