Why can’t we keep our endangered Red-tails?

Photo: David Adam

Current regulations require a specialist permit to keep Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. This is because of the five sub-species of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo that occur across Australia, two of these, including our very own South-eastern sub-species, are nationally threatened.

The South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team is often asked by native and exotic bird keepers why South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (SERTBC) cannot be held, bred or traded in captivity.  

Reasons or arguments for the need to retain a specialist permit for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo include:

  1. It can be difficult to distinguish between the sub-species; requiring specialist permits makes it more difficult to own/keep/sell sub-species that are threatened.
  2. A specialist permit enables governance around keeping/trading of RTBCs.
  3. Specialist permits create a tighter market as birds are less accessible.
  4. Specialist permits mean that total numbers and trade in SERTBC can be monitored. Limiting the number of specialist permits held for SERTBC reduces/minimises the risk of hybridisation in captivity and the risk of spreading disease from captive to wild populations, through birds escaping (or being released) from aviaries.
  5. The risk of black market trade in this endangered sub-species may be limited if specialist permits continue to restrict keeping and trade to those with the demonstrated passion and responsibility for maintaining appropriate facilities, husbandry and record-keeping – ie. to those who satisfy conditions for obtaining a specialist permit endorsed for one, or more, of the RTBC sub-species.

For more information please contact the Project Coordinator on 1800 262 026 or via email

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