An ex-parrot, pining for the salt flats

Caption: Environmentalists insist that their parrot is just sleeping.

Environmentalists invariably adopt a pose of untouchable moral purity, while at the same time casting their opponents as evil, planet-destroying villains; but the truth is that environmentalists are just as hungry for those sweet, sweet dollars as any Daddy Oilbucks. Leading environmental campaigners charge megabucks just to prattle their green nostrums at gullible students. Green NGOs are as dependent on a steady stream of funding as any corporation.

Money makes the world go ?round, as Liza and Joel sang in Cabaret, and Gaia is no exception. So, despite their pretensions of purity, it is as necessary to ask: cui bono? of environmentalists as it is of an oil-drilling company. Quote:

Proof of a new night parrot population in South Australia is in doubt as the Australian Wildlife Conservancy has removed all information about the rare bird from its website.

The conservation group also confirmed that John Young, a senior ecologist who was instrumental in finding evidence about the bird, last month resigned from the organisation.

“We have received questions about the veracity of some of the content and we are investigating these matters,” a statement released last night by the AWC read.

“The Night Parrot content will not be republished until we receive the results of the independent investigation into the veracity of the work.” End of quote.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett famously called the orange-bellied parrot a ?trumped-up corella?. At the time, the putative residence of the birds at Point Cook near Melbourne was used to stymie a proposed chemical storage facility. To prove their versatility, though, the birds were later used to stop the building of a wind farm, hundreds of kilometres from Point Cook. Quote:

The night parrot has been described as Australia’s most elusive native bird?The AWC reported that Mr Young and a colleague last year found a feather reputedly from a night parrot on Kalamurina Station, near northern Lake Eyre?the discovery seemed to be proof the bird was living in South Australia, the state where some of the very first night parrot specimens were collected in 1845. Since then, no firm evidence had been published that the bird still lived there. End of quote.

Jeff Kennett lamented that, for such a rare bird, orange-bellied parrots seemed to pop up everywhere someone wanted to build a development. The night parrot seems to be a similarly convenient bird. Quote:

But questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the feather discovery, including by Australian National University ornithologist Penelope Olsen, author of the book Night Parrot: Australia’s Most Elusive Bird.

Dr Olsen said the feather shown in photos of the zebra finch nest looked markedly different to the feather sent off for analysis.

Concerns have also been expressed about a different photo, now removed from the AWC website, of a purported night parrot nest in the Diamantina region in Queensland’s central west.

Dr Olsen said the nest in the photo was missing many of the hallmarks seen in other night parrot nests, and the eggs in the picture looked as if they could be made of plaster. End of quote.

But why would environmentalists want to allegedly fake the presence of an apparently vanished species? Quote:

Protecting night parrots in the Kimberley was cited as one of the aims of a recent increase in government support for Indigenous rangers in the region. End of quote.

?Government support? meaning, of course, money.

Kalamurina Station, where the disputed ?discovery? was made, is coincidentally a conservation reserve owned by none other than Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Quote:

In what’s believed to be one of the biggest purchases of land for private conservation use in Australia…Australian Wildlife Conservancy have taken over the pastoral lease at Kalamurina Station that spans over 660,000 hectares. End of quote.

AWC rakes in tens of millions from donations and grants. It surely wouldn?t hurt their fundraising to have a night parrot or two nailed to a perch at their flagship reserve.

However allegedly faking evidence could be counter-productive. If night parrots are miraculously appearing as often as their orange-bellied cousins, would they really be so endangered? Quote:

Dr Olsen said if evidence had been falsified, it would complicate the effort to conserve the few birds that did remain in the environment.

“My worry is ? and I know it’s happening already ? mining companies are already saying, ‘These parrots are turning up everywhere, why do we have to do any IS [impact studies]? Why do we have to look for them?”?End of quote.