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Our Diamond Jubilee First Live Streaming

Avian Importation (Part I – Live Stream)
Update on the Orange-bellied Parrot (Part II – Live Stream)

(ASNSW Meeting - 7 April 2015)
(Printable Version - PDF file - Free Adobe Reader download)

Live streaming was made possible by the voluntary help of John Murphy, Director of Hawk IT Services Pty Ltd who was assisted by Ryan Leahy.  Ryan recently presented on the "Torres Strait Pigeon in Captivity" at our April 2014 meeting and a visit to one of his favourite zoos in 2013, the St Lois Zoo in Missouri in the USA (in particular the St Lois Zoo Bird House), at our August 2014 meeting.

Introduction by Graeme Phipps
Avian Importation presented by Daniel Gowland
Orange-bellied Parrot presented by Daniel Gowland


By Graeme Phipps

Welcome to the General Meeting of the Avicultural Society of NSW. Tonight I would especially like to welcome all those thousands of people throughout the world who are sharing our live stream. Welcome to you all.

The Avicultural Society of NSW is in its 75th year – its Diamond Jubilee Year – and as part of that we have decided to totally open the club up and have live streaming involving you.

Because it is a live stream, you are welcome and indeed invited to be part of it. You may tweet your comments to the Society's twitter which is @AvicultureNSW or you may simply click on the live chat itself and Ryan will pick up your questions. So you can definitely be part of the audience.

Priam Psittaculture Centre (PPC)Tonight (and it is an exciting night) we are going to be having Daniel Gowland from the Priam Psittaculture Centre who is going to be talking to us on the topic of Avian Importation. Then because of Priam's work on the Orange-bellied parrot, Daniel is going to give us a little update on the work that's been done at Priam (and is being done at the moment). It's highly significant for this incredibly threatened bird. There are only 70 to 80 of these parrots living in the wild at the moment and a captive population of 350, so we will be going into that a little bit after the Avian Importation. Daniel has got great credentials for this because for those of you that have been lucky enough to visit Priam (which is at Bungendore just outside of Canberra) you will know that it's got one of the greatest collections of foreign parrots in the main, but quite a lot of large Australian parrots; Black Cockatoos and the like. Their technology is just amazing.

Daniel is an aviculturist of long standing as is his father Peter who is well known to most of the older members. He is a member of the Orange-bellied Parrot Captive Management Group and has been for some years. His contribution to that I'd say is pretty extreme, because he is presenting information that is absolutely beautiful, new information which he will talk about.

The Society's position on avian importation is that we are in support of both importation and exportation of birds so long as they derive from captive self sustaining populations, for those where importation or exportation would likely become so. So we are not in support of wild bird traffic, we need you all throughout the world to know that, we are definitely anti-smuggling and in support of legal trade in birds. It's been a vexed issue in our area because it's just basally slow to get real movement on the topic. Daniel will be providing some ideas tonight about what our forward progress needs to be on that topic. So Daniel welcome to the Avicultural Society of NSW.

Avian Importation

Presented by Daniel Gowland

Thank you Graeme and thank you to the Avicultural Society of NSW for this opportunity.

Graeme is 100% right when we say "importation" and "exportation"; we can't have one without the other. We are not unique in our position as there are many countries around the world that are in the same predicament and in the long term we are going to have birds which are going to be falling aside from proper management and sustainability.

For us to import animals into this country and elsewhere you need to impact with the Government authorities with the right mind and studies and backgrounds needed to be able to work out that if we bring in a particular species and it doesn't have to be a group of birds, whatever it is we want to come into the country, what is going to be the impact of that critter?

Import Risk Analysis (IRA)

IRAs are currently being performed. The Psittacine IRA has been on the board for 10 years or so and it has not been completed. It has not been ticked off. It's been reviewed a number of times and it keeps being promised to be put up there, but it is not something which is actually functionally signed off on and dealt with and we can go and act on. Whereas there are a bunch of these IRAs that are there from what we really see is coordinated groups of people that have come together and have lobbied, and they've said "hey, we need to get bees in..., we need to get bovine in..., we need to get..." you know whatever it is, it's a coordinated group; and you see on the Department of Agriculture's website a list there of the IRAs that have been completed.

So what we really need to do is show everybody who is fancying birds of any sort; not just parrots, psittacines have been done; but there are finches and there are pheasants and there are all sorts of different species that need to get done in the long run for the survival of the species; for not just our generation, not for our kid's generation, but their generations and their generations beyond that. We are talking hundreds, if not thousands of years.


Society has come around and has decided that quarantine is very important and that was back in the 1950s. Some of us here were born in that timeframe.

Then we will go onto another list later on which will be decisive recommendations (which is in my lifetime), of an understanding of how we should manage threatened species. So all the quarantine to be approved and for the risk assessment to be completed, we will then be given guidelines. For this to be done we need to go ahead as one big group and say we need this to be sorted please and everybody – numbers is the key! There are more birds in captivity than dogs and cats combined, which was reported in a Companion Animals Study back in 2007. If you look it up on Google you will see it back there.

We have the potential to have this sort of infrastructure put in place. A quarantine approved premise is something that they must tell us what type of grade is required, what type of bio-security is required for us to bring these animals in, prior they do their own quarantining, but once they get here it's usually 1, 2, 3, 4, what grade?

Fees and Charges

We then have to look at how much the overall cost is; because at the moment the costing to get assessment for exporting is in the order of from between $100 and $200 for a 15 minute session.

We are finding it very hard to actually get a quote out of the Government in regards to exactly what timeframe it's going to take, let alone the cost. So from a business and a survival point of view from daily feeding, not only of the critters but of the people that help the system go forward, it's very hard to budget on the fact that there is no actual quote being given, just on a 15 minute interview. You ring them up, that's it, bang, bang, bang.

They do have a new Post Entry Quarantine Facility which is going to be completed in 2018 for all avian critters. At the moment it is being completed for dogs and cats and horses. I think that for bees it has just been completed. It's down near Melbourne.

The problem with the avian facility at the moment is, it's for large species. It's big, it's for commercial poultry. We need a system where one bird can come in, a pet bird from somebody who is migrating from England or wherever they are on the planet. They can come over here and bring their pet critter which has been part of their family, which is an animal that has been with them for decades. We need to be able to hire out a space as big as this hall with costs and fees to be put back into many other quarantine imports. I believe we need something to specialise in that you and I, who are people that are technically excellent and able to keep the husbandry of these critters up to the limit that they require to survive, and needs to be small enough that we can bring in one clutch.


The Department of Environment is the other side of what we need to be worrying about. Quarantine is all agriculture. The Department of Environment is the trade of these people. It is decisive, it is the certificate, it's called the Convention on International Trades in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).


It is managed by wildlife trade within the Federal Government Department of Environment down in Canberra. Each animal (parrots in particular) has got a 3, 2, 1 grading. One is very high, 3 is for the particular country it might be from.

We have to come up with a breeding programme which enables us to share the genetics that we are able to breed here in Australia with guys overseas and vice versa. When they have bred the species to a number which is over represented potentially in their gene lines, or they have just created something which is different, they have finally got a particular family line which is growing, breeding; we need them to come back in here. Export and import must go together.

The zoo worlds are able to use what they call CCPs (Cooperative Conservation Projects) which enables these animals to come in and be displayed.

One of the things that the Australian Government hasn't really adopted, or appreciated, or recognised, is not only the long term viability of the species but also the significance that the husbandry of private individuals have in maintaining captive breeding programmes – a collaborative.

It is all about the critter; it is all about the welfare of that critter. We need these guys to go on for a very long time, in the hands of people who can just concentrate and focus on one particular species then that particular species can thrive.

It's all about captive breeding. We know that a lot of parrots and birds in general like to hide away and not be seen for their breeding time; unlike some other animals which are boldly out there in front of everybody else. They need to have that quiet reserved environment designed for them which is something where the private individual can really show how our husbandry skills get excelled when we create that environment which isn't necessarily there just for a presentation point of view or an education point of view, or a research point of view. Because, fundamentally how the rules are at the moment or how the interpretation of what the science's documentation is, is that to bring a critter in for exhibition is okay. But we need to be looking for captive breeding and again we need to be sorting something out, I believe, aviculturists here and not just in Australia but overseas as well, something where these guys can have a long term ability to be able to swap those blood lines and whatever we send out over there also comes back inside here.

Appendix III Species

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country that has asked other CITES parties for help in controlling trade.

Appendix III animals are like your Ringnecks; your Indian Ringneck species. While they are in aviculture around the world in big numbers, in Indian they are under a bit of pressure. So India says, "hey, can you put these guys on your listings so we can monitor them?".

Appendix II Species

After Appendix III there's only about two or three species (which aren't parrots species) which are not really "appendixed". The majority of parrots are Appendix II. There's a whole bunch of species that are not listed on CITIES, but for parrots, pretty well everyone is listed on CITIES.

Appendix II contains species that, although not threatened with extinction now, might become so unless trade in them is strictly regulated.

The Australian Government wants a captive breeding programme. Now the captive breeding programme is something that we need to be able to have an influence in to make them functional, to make them work.

We can't be putting chickens and ostriches in the same classification as a parrot.

You can't take any parrot – or I won't say any, but the majority of parrots – you can't take them, put them into a quarantine facility and within two months of their free export quarantine expect them to be comfortable enough to breed.

From the example with the work that we've done at Priam, you'll see that if we are doing a big move, we're wanting a two year turn around. If we want to put guys into a new flight (yes it would be great from a previous season) but realistically we are working on the season after that. So that in a quarantine facility is somewhat a little bit unworkable.

The current Psittacine Impact Risk Assessment is looking at eggs; it's also looking at live birds. I think we need to start at ground roots and work our way up. Yes we do need to be able to bring in the feathered individuals but I also think we need to be able to bring in semen. We need to be able to bring in the eggs in a manner that is completely traceable so that we can go back and we can go "oh", and try to work out some of the issues that we see in the rearing of these individuals.

Appendix I Species

After Appendix II we've got Appendix I.

Now Appendix I animals get moved up there. A lot of the animals that came into Australia came in as Appendix II and through the past couple of decades have been moved to Appendix I. I am not going to debate that it is the wrong thing to do. However, they fall into a completely different class of rules. The Appendix I animals are for non commercial purpose, as are most of these types of animals in their interpretation, but specifically Appendix 1 animals are under threat.

Appendix I contains species threatened with extinction

Now the elephants that were bought in are a classic. They are an Appendix 1 critter brought into Australia. Scarlet Macaws are an Appendix I critter; the little Blue-throated Conure is an Appendix I critter. For us to bring them in, Australia needs to come up with a clear definition of "commercial" – because "non commercial" is up there.

We will say "non commercial" is "display". You can come and have a look at this critter and you can come and pay me to have a look at this critter as long as you abide by all the rules of the DPI to actually keep these guys in an enclosure.

However, it is "commercial", an interpretation of "commercial" to actually exchange funds for that critter, even if those funds are being used to feed that critter, to house that critter, to clean that critter, help with its reproduction; that is still under the interpretations of Appendix I – "commercial".

We need to have that influence, we need to be able to go together and say, "well what is it?"

In some countries Appendix I "commercial" definition is if you are going to on sell that critter. So if you are going to sell that animal and somebody else is going to sell that animal, that is a "commercial" transaction.

CITIES itself says that there is no worrying about money exchanges. They are expecting money to exchange for an actual critter because there is a lot of work that goes into getting that critter on the perch and sustaining it where it is. Captive breeding programmes where there is a collaborative which is looking after the species, looking after the individual welfare and being able to have it so that if the individual keeper falls off the perch, then the species can move to another group of people with more than probably the means where these guys are going to go in the long run. These programmes, as they have in America and other places around the globe, are then able to go across the border, stay within a captive breeding programme, but over the States, or over in Europe, or wherever it be, let them breed, let them work on their husbandries, let them keep that genetic pool alive and then bring these guys back in. Not necessarily in a year or five years, or 10 years or 15 years, or a hundred years – at some stage. The genetic material needs to be diversified and that's what research and CITIES is telling us at the moment. We need to diversify as much as we possibly can to retain these individuals, otherwise they will be lost.

Currently, research, education, exhibitions, scientific material, household pets, the conservation breeding programmes; are what is permitted by the Australian Government in regards to the importation or exportation of critters.

Trade may be permitted for a range of non commercial purposes, including:  Research, Education, Exhibitions, etc.

We really fit into the conservation breeding. CITIES has recognised captive breeding so captive breeding is where we need to be as a Society. We need to be able to stand up and let the Government know how responsible and how good we are. Could you imagine if we had all the different species and all the different individuals up there as a number to be able to say "look, we bred this, our numbers aren't going down, our numbers are going up". Every aviculturist is aiming to make the environment as happy as possible for the individual so that they will replicate and carry on.

Impact Risk Analysis? We need to get sorted, before we know the rules of what happens to importations from quarantine premises. CITIES captive breeding programmes is what is required for us to co-ordinate our breeding programmes on a global level.

Do we have any questions?

Graeme Phipps

Should we be focusing on CITIES Appendix II species Daniel? I think it is important that we go forward and that we are not all the time having to wait for something. So if we have got a window of opportunity with CITIES Appendix II at the moment, but we don't have to get the commercial/non commercial definitions, would it be worthwhile to focus on them in the first instance?

Daniel Gowland

I still think wherever we are going to go we are going to come up with the definition of "commercial". That is going to be the flaw.

I think Appendix II is definitely going to be a simpler process to come in; as Appendix I animals don't have a proforma; a document that they can go by for captive breeding. They've got it for displays and co-operative breeding programmes, but they don't necessarily have one for captive breeding in itself, in a collaborative.

I personally think we need to look at the blood lines that we do have here and work out what we require additional genetic diversity in; that this is the way to go. As opposed to like that, that's a different species altogether in bringing them in. Also I think it is not just parrots. We've got to be looking at the finches; we've got to be looking at the pheasants as well, while we get this process. What we're learning from the parrots, we need to be putting in the applications and trying to get those guides fulfilled for pheasants and any other birds we're after – Long term.

Jack Stunnell

Are the quarantine facilities in South Australia still functioning?

Daniel Gowland

Yes they are, but the problem with them I believe, is that the lease is coming up and they have to redo the structures to bring them up to today's standards. So again, I don't see that they are something which is ideal for what we are after.

I think if you're a large commercial enterprise, absolutely, but if you're a small concern, you want to take away the risk of disease. The more animals you put into the room the higher the chance you are going to have disease. You've got to co-ordinate a lot more people because there's a lot more funding involved too. So while it is there, the same as Spotswood in Melbourne VIC is still there and functional, these guys are coming to completion within the next few years; 2018 is when they are planning to have the new avian Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility completed. Three rooms and then a room for live animals as well, but larger rooms.

I really think that we just need to get the numbers there guys, we need to be able to stand up proud and go "wait up, look what we're doing here". The zoo world does it incredibly well. There are so many people around the planet that do it incredibly well, and we kind of, we're shy, we sit back and "oh, oh, oh..." you know, if we really put out there "HEY, look how many Appendix I animals we do have, that we are caring for and we're bolstering the numbers; look how many Appendix II there are, they are not just hanging in there, they are actually going up!".

In today's climate with Society going all about sustainability, aviculturists are there, they're at the forefront. We've got very threatened birds, we got very tricky individuals to keep on, and we are just going in leaps and bounds.

Ten to 20 years ago, where were we?

We have come a long way and we are still going. We have generations that are coming up with these new thoughts, this guy and that... and... "I never thought about that before".

Sarah Evett

What key species do you have in mind if the import legislation comes into place?

Daniel Gowland

For me, definitely there are individual things but this is where I think the Society itself needs to be able to come up with a group.

I like amazons and I know there are Amazon species; the Red-lored Amazon (Amazona autumnalis), Green-cheeked Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis), Yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix), there is a whole bunch of those, plus Macaws. The Red-fronted macaw (Ara rubrogenys) species is something that would be excellent to be able to get blood lines in and to go out.

Some of you may not know that there's been a single Red-fronted macaw that was lost about 9 or 10 years ago from Wellington Zoo. We're part of the zoo network; they are part of our zoo network, and we still can't get that animal in. Not that we haven't been given the permits, but the different departments haven't aligned. One permit gets given, it's lapsed by the time the next permit comes through. The next permit comes in and that one's lapsed and it's just this big cycle, and that's within the zoo industry. So if it were captive, a real down to earth captive, where a large majority of threatened species are maintained, it's almost an impossible act, so yes I do think it has to be species like that to just keep going.

Yes, again, I think it's individual briefs, collaboration and going "okay, let's focus on this, let's do the paperwork". Once we get this done we are just touching the surface here okay. An Impact Risk Analysis will give us the protocol for bringing in the parrots, where we can bring them from, and what wev'e got to do with that, before and after, but then each individual species has to be assessed. Okay we're just doing the graduate, the big picture thing of parrots, what's the reason that they can't come in, it's not that it can't be done, it's just that somebody has got to at the end of the day go "okay, this is what we know about it, let's have a go, and try to minimise the risk".

John Murphy

A few online questions for you Daniel...

The Parrot Society "would like to know what basic steps you would suggest clubs take to collaborate as one towards legalising importation".

Daniel Gowland

Excellent question. Some of the very key things and which I have seen done in the Finch Society as well, is get breeding programmes. Have animals there that we're going to collaborate with and say alright, how are we going to manage this? Let's take some Blue-fronted amazons. Alright, you've got Blue-fronted, you've got Blue-fronted, and you've got Blue-fronted. We'll trace their histories... okay now how can we diversify those blood lines coming together? ...and as far as putting these, then... that is one to show that, that organisation there is serious about maintaining species in the long run. But then coming to a parent body, to be able to then represent, we as a Society, we as aviculturists have to come together and say "who are we going to have to represent us?"

In behind closed doors absolutely go "rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, listen to this, listen to that", work it out and have one clear voice coming together.

I personally don't care who it is, but I do think a nice co-ordinated clear simple approach is what is going to get through to the politicians, because they don't know about birds. They've got so many other things on their plate. So one clear message coming through.

Graeme Phipps

Daniel you have also alluded to the notion that why shouldn't we do it the same way that zoos do it? In other words zoos cannot import without having a captive management plan to present to the authorities and you were arguing I think earlier, that we do similar.

Daniel Gowland

I believe that is where it is headed, absolutely. We have to be very structured, we have to be very open book about where we are going with this, but it is going to be different because we are using the animals in a different manner.

CITIES covers live things and dead things. It covers plants; it covers animals and breeding programmes which we can model. There's so much where we are very similar to the zoo world that we can model off that and use that as kind of a template and try to work it for what we are actually after.

The zoos are doing an awesome job in managing their species. I think we can be doing it too. It's different mixes of species which are being cared for.

John Murphy

There are some more online questions. We've got Stephen Young who would like to know "what are our needs that are outstanding with respect to the IRAs and are there processes in place to have it completed in the same timeline as the quarantine facility?

Daniel Gowland

Good question. The idea of what is required for the IRAs is we need to send to Barnaby Joyce and say "hey Barnaby, the agricultural departments say; please complete the Import Risk Analysis". End of story. "Please complete the Import Risk Analysis".

For psittacines, you want us to do if for finches or whatever, they have already done the psittacines and that is why I am saying, do the Import Risk Analysis for psittacines, please. That is it, alright.

Will it be in time?

I've been told by vets who have been around for a very long time, it will take six months to be completed. It has been done. It has been done for the past 10 years.

Gary Cross who is a wise old vet who taught many of the vets out there; he told me years and years ago that he worked on one of the original IRAs to get it done. They need to update it, absolutely, but to complete it... six months. Let's triple that... let's say a year and a half... by 2018 we should be able to have parrots. There are other QAPs (quarantine approved premises) that we could use if we could get the permits to actually bring the animals in.

John Murphy

Murray Macpherson asks "are there any other countries that are at a similar stage to us in regard to importation that we can learn from or share information with?"

Daniel Gowland

New Zealand is a close ally; we have a lot of similar rules. There are a lot of interpretations. CITIES itself is a rule book of recommendations and each country takes and modifies out of that rule book as it likes. It's generally the same but there are slight different interpretations of it.

New Zealand would be the closest one but aside from that a lot of the other countries have already got some sort of interpretation. CITIES itself looks at birds and goes... "oooh, these are a bit tricky", because it is tricky.

There are so many ways that a legal activity could happen and it's so hard to actually work on how do we actually manage this in the long run? How do we manage the transfer of an egg? You say it's coming from the macaw, it could be coming from a... whatever... okay. So there are practical things which the people that regulate this sort of stuff aren't aware of and we need to help in finding those loop holes but also in streamlining the process.

The costing which was up there is a big one. It's going to handbrake us, but the sooner we work that out, the sooner we can streamline it, that's the way that we're going to bring the costing down on that as well. Does that make sense?

John Murphy

Stephen Young asks "are you finding that the personalities within the government departments are being positive and favourable to moving forward?"

Daniel Gowland

Absolutely. At the moment I don't think we have had a better group of people in our political system that are going "okay, well let's take it one step at a time"... yes very positive... and this is from high up ministerial levels, their advisors all the way through to the guys that manage it. They understand. A generational change. You've got people that have come through the species management of the zoo world now inside that actual organisation and they've got a clear understanding of how we manage these things. I see that now is absolutely the time that these guys are the best ever. Keep in mind they still need to get an understanding of it. It's something a lot of us take for granted.

Graeme Phipps

And they tend to move around a lot.

Daniel Gowland

Absolutely. So this is why it's really good and we all jump and go "yes let's go now because they are a good group of people in there now". They do have an interest to actually solve the problem.

Graeme Phipps

Thank you Daniel, that was just great. So obviously what we need to do is to go forward with it which means someone has to be doing the IRAs for parrots, someone has to be doing the IRAs for finches. It is likely the Finch Society would be co-ordinating that and someone, likely the Pheasant Society, would be doing the pheasant side of it. Would the Parrot Society likely be working hard on the IRAs for parrots? You said it was already done?

Daniel Gowland

It's already done. It is really the Government that we have to say "guys you do it – you go and complete that". So yes, pushing and encouraging them and helping and keeping inside their spectrum all the time.

Graeme Phipps

We definitely need to go forward with avian importation and for all of you looking at our live stream, or are part of our live stream globally, know that we are entirely understanding that you are the supply for foreign birds – your programmes – so you have to have good programmes from which we can import from.

We are the demand end here and it is the opposite for native birds. That is we have to have very good demonstrably captive self sustaining populations that can be good sources for genetic diversity that you need to maintain your collections overseas. So there it is the other way. We are the supply, you are the demand.

Daniel Gowland

We are lucky too I think because our native birds are already governed by the National Parks and Wildlife now. So there's already a history and a track record there.

Graeme Phipps

Thank you very much Daniel, that's a real beauty!

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