Name: Malleefowl or ‘Lowan’ (an aboriginal name derived from a call which the bird makes when in danger)
Scientific Name: Leipoa Ocellata
Family: Megapode (which literally means ‘great-footed’) 22 species of mound-building birds inhabiting south-east Asia and Australia.
Size: Total length of 60cm, weighing 2 – 2.5kg.
Unique Breeding Strategy: Builds a large incubator mound which utilizes fermentation of leaf litter as well as solar radiation.
Number of Eggs per season: Usually 15-20, upto 35 recorded. None in drought conditions.
Average Mound Temperature: 32 Celsius
Habitat: Mallee (Eucalyptus spp.) and other arid woodland vegetation, often with a thick understory of Broombush (Melaleuca Uncinata).
Distribution: Mallee areas of western NSW, north-west Victoria (as far South as the Little Desert region), southern SA and WA.
Status: Endangered Species. Locally extinct in many areas, with surviving populations fragmented and vulnerable.
Reason for decline: Clearing, burning and grazing of the mallee regions along with predation by introduced animals, such as foxes and feral cats.
Conservation projects initiated by Little Desert Nature Lodge:
- Preservation of the Malleefowl Sanctuary a 295 acre covenant-protected reserve with 3 active breeding pairs.
- Captive breeding program at the Malleefowl Aviary where chicks raised can be released back into the wild.
- Lowan Habitat Enrichment Program, the re-vegetation of areas to provide suitable breeding and feeding habitat for Malleefowl.