Red Goshawk research continues to soar with new collaboration

11 October 2018

A Rio Tinto research programme in Far North Queensland involving Australia’s rarest bird of prey has taken another step forward after the signing of a new Red Goshawk agreement with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).

The new collaboration builds on an already successful research programme with the Queensland Department of Environment & Science (DES) which commenced following a sighting of a Red Goshawk nest on a mining lease near the community of Mapoon in 2015.

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations general manager Daniel van der Westhuizen said the business was proud to work with AWC to ensure a long-term future for the endangered species.

"The Red Goshawk is a fascinating bird of prey, however limited information exists around its basic ecology and conservation requirements.

"In partnership with DES we have been able to refine our tracking and trapping techniques over the past three years, with four individual birds fitted with transmitters over that time providing invaluable information.

"I’m pleased to announce that we will be working with AWC, which will help us take the next step in growing our collective knowledge for the local region and support the development of collaborative protective strategies," he said.

AWC is Australia's largest private owner of land for conservation. It manages 4.6 million hectares in iconic regions such as the Kimberley, Cape York, Lake Eyre and the Top End. On Cape York Peninsula, 170,000 hectares of ecological diversity, with rainforests, woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, can be found in Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary.

AWC Acting Chief Executive, Tim Allard said Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary is proving to be an important stronghold for Australia’s rarest raptor.

"This new agreement supports the sharing of resources and allows research to be conducted across AWC sanctuaries and Rio Tinto lease holdings.

"This agreement illustrates how industry can collaborate with the conservation sector to deliver ground-breaking research to support one of our iconic threatened species," he said.

The research agreement with DES and AWC is just one of many Rio Tinto has in place with local Indigenous ranger groups, Traditional Owners, universities and Government agencies to learn more about threatened species on Western Cape York, including the Palm Cockatoo and Northern Quoll.

About the Red Goshawk

The Red Goshawk (scientifically known as Erythrotriorchis radiatus) is a large raptor, growing to a length of 45–58 cm, with a wingspan of 110–135 cm. It is considered Australia’s rarest bird of prey and is listed as ‘endangered’ in Queensland and ‘vulnerable’ by the Commonwealth Government. The powerfully built red-brown raptor is one of the most striking animals in the Australian bush. A female is almost twice the size of the male but both birds have the same bold colourations and markings. A Red Goshawk’s talons are almost two inches long and are used to quickly grasp and kill prey. Red Goshawks hunt by surprise attack, launching from a concealed perch in pursuit of other medium to large sized birds. The speed at which they fly and manoeuvre allows them to successfully hunt other fast-moving species, including the Rainbow Lorikeet.