Date of this Version
Fueled by a large supplemental food supply at landfills in South-east Queensland, Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) populations grew from an estimated 5000 to 10000 between 1995 and 1998. Ibis counted at Coolangatta Airport reflected this growth with a 556% increase between 1989 and 1995. The multimillion-dollar loss of a Qantas airbus engine from ingestion of an Ibis, resulted in the establishment of the Ibis Management Coordination Group (IMCG). This group, comprising government, industry and community representatives, instigated an integrated program of food reduction, restriction of breeding success and public education. The program has become an example for management programs across Australia and demonstrates that off airport initiatives are sometimes required to ensure aircraft safety. The region’s largest Ibis colony of over 3000 birds was located in a remnant forest and wildlife park under the flight-path 4km north of Coolangatta Airport. Food restriction programs included netting eating areas for patrons, designing special feeders for water fowl and macropods to exclude Ibis and altering the forage type for many of the animals at the fauna reserve. Egg and nest destruction was employed to restrict breeding success and evening spotlighting was adopted to disrupt Ibis roosts. The colony’s population decreased 89% within two breeding seasons. Ibis counts at Coolangatta Airport paralleled this decline with a 75% decrease between 1995 and 1998, resulting in significantly reduced birdstrike hazard.