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Karak: Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

Mascot of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games


Karak with Australian Prime Minister John Howard
Right: the red-tailed black cockatoo
Pictures courtesy Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games

Karak, mascot of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, is a red-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne), an endangered Australian southeastern subspecies distinguished by its small size, brightly colored females and specialised feeding and breeding needs.

The name Karak comes from the bird's distinctive birdcall. Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games information says Karak was chosen because the bird embodies the spirit of the Games: uniquely Australian and welcoming to all, its gregarious nature and rugged good looks making Karak the "perfect mascot to unite city and bush."

Fewer than 1000 birds

In Victoria, the red-tailed black cockatoo is found from Portland in the southeast to just north of the Little Desert. In South Australia it is found from Bangham-Frances to Mt Gambier.

The current population is estimated to be around 700 to 1000 birds. Last year, 86 volunteers counted no more than 736 southeastern red-tailed black cockatoos in the region.

Tree-planting program

The future of this cockatoo depends on trees since the bird feeds almost entirely on the seeds of brown stringybarks and bulokes. Since settlement, 60 per cent of stringybarks and 98 per cent of bulokes have been cleared for agriculture.

The Commonwealth Games Environment Program has added a new tree-planting site 10 kilometres out of Casterton, northeast of Mt Gambier and west northwest of Melbourne

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