Flying from Australia to Siberia in a microlight to curb extinction
Media release: 27 February 2017
A Perth zoologist is flying a microlight aircraft from Australia to Siberia to raise awareness of the plight of a group of shorebirds that are facing extinction.
Amellia Formby, from the University of Western Australia, is setting out to fly along the same migratory path that these birds fly every year. It’s a 12,500km journey that will take her around three months in the microlight. But she’s not just making this trip for the shorebirds.
“When we care for shorebirds and other species, we also indirectly care for ourselves because we share and rely upon the same environments as they do to survive,” says Amellia. “Understanding how we are connected to each other and all living things via global ecosystems is crucial if we are to improve things for the future for all species.”
Amellia is currently crowdfunding to raise funds to purchase a microlight aircraft and is planning to test her wings on a shorter flight from Melbourne to Broome—visiting key Australian shorebird sites to produce a documentary film—at the beginning of 2019. Her next stop is Siberia in 2022.
Shorebirds feed in intertidal areas or around freshwater wetlands, and make up around 10% of all birds in Australia. The smallest of these migratory species, the Red-necked Stint, weighs as much as a Tim Tam, but every year makes the trek thousands of kilometres from its coastal Australian home to breeding grounds in Siberia. Flying up to 3,200km at a time, these birds depend on stopover points along their migration path in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF)—stretching from Australia and New Zealand up to Far North Russia and Alaska—for shelter and to feed.
But degradation and the loss of wetlands along this pathway—a result of increasing economic development—means the critical stopover areas these shorebirds need are decreasing. This is forcing them towards extinction.
“I see shorebirds as a living expression of global community. Their migration path is a thread that links billions of people, living in 22 countries across four continents, together in the EAAF,” says Amellia. “By mimicking their journey, I aim to show how important our environment, and the connections we all have to it, is to our survival and that of other species.”
Amellia’s journey is being supported by the University of Western Australia, Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) and BirdLife Australia.
“This is an exciting project that draws attention to the amazing annual feat of these birds that are so threatened by human actions,” says Mike Bamford, Chair of BirdLife Western Australia.
“Recreational Aviation Australia is thrilled to support Amellia on this exciting journey from Australia to Siberia. It’s fantastic to see the important role that aviation can play in the conservation of these shorebirds, and the greater environment,” says Jill Bailey, National Operations Manager at RAAus.
For media interviews and images, contact Amellia Formby on 0400 201 731 or email@example.com. She’ll be at the Avalon Airshow from March 2nd – 5th to promote the launch of her crowdfunding campaign and is available for interview there.