Sunday 6 April 2008

Magpie geese

Magpie geese (Anseranas semipalmata) were once a fixture on swamps and lakes in southern Victoria. In the 1850s, they were so abundant that they were harvested for sale in Melbourne. Within a few decades, the numbers had declined so drastically that magpie geese had all but disappeared from the state.

Hunting had a major impact on the geese. Drainage of swamps for agriculture, drought, poisoning and fox predation also took their toll.

Now, the geese are slowly re-establishing in Victoria. Serendip Sanctuary started a captive breeding program in the 1960s using birds collected in northern Australia. Offspring were sent to locations in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, where they set up house with varying success. The program has finished now. At Serendip, which has permanent water and is fox free, the colony has done well. On some days, it's difficult to walk anywhere without stepping in goose poop — an unconventional but very useful measure of accomplishment.

(I blogged about magpie geese and their systematic position in this earlier post.)


Nye, E.R., Dickman, C.R. & Kingsford, R.T. (2007). A wild goose chase – temporal and spatial variation in the distribution of the Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) in Australia. Emu 107: 28 – 37.