Ibis in Urban Sydney: a Gift from Ra or a Pharaoh's Curse?
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Ancient Egyptians deified Ibis and, in common with the farmers in western New South Wales, saw them as allies in the fight against pestilence. However, successive years of drought and reduced river flows in the west may have driven the Ibis east where they have taken advantage of poor urban waste management practices and the community's “need to feed” friendly birds. Ibis have established viable colonies in urban areas with population numbers in the thousands. The Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca population in metropolitan Sydney has increased considerably over the past 15 years. The impact that this increase has had on other wetland species has largely gone unmeasured. Information available on the success of this species in urban environments is scant although there is documented evidence on the impact of Ibis and other large wetland birds on wetland habitats. The long-term viability of urban wetlands relies on the ability of managers to balance aesthetics and conservation on the one hand, with recreational land use issues on the other. Next to the management of human recreation, the management of problem fauna, including native species that have the potential to impact on aesthetics or conservation values of these habitats, is foremost.