How you can raise awareness about Australia’s native threatened species – from your kitchen

Bake up a storm this weekend – all in the name of acknowledging threatened species. Here’s how you can play a part.

If you love Australian flora and fauna and you have a penchant for baking, combine the two and create your own masterpiece for the fourth annual Threatened Species Bake Off.

It’s an Australian-wide competition challenging you to bake a dessert in the shape of a threatened species to commemorate National Threatened Species Day on 7 September.

The day aims to raise awareness about Australian plants and animals that are at risk of extinction in the wild, and the Bake Off is a unique way to celebrate them.

Run by the Threatened Species Commissioner, the event aims to build awareness of the remarkable and unique threatened wildlife that call Australia home.

You can participate by baking your creation in the shape of your chosen Australian native threatened species and sharing it with the Commissioner on social media.

All you need to do is upload an image of your baked goods to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram by using the hashtag #TSBakeOff and tag the Threatened Species Commissioner, or send in an image of your baked goods or a link to the Threatened Species Commissioner.

Entries close on 8 September, with winners announced on 10 September.

This year’s theme is ‘What’s in your backyard?’ with entrants encouraged to focus on a species which is close to home.

Want some inspiration? Read on.

About threatened species

threatened species is a plant or animal at risk of extinction. Threatened species in SA that are low-level threatened (which means they could become extinct) are classified from ‘rare’ to ‘vulnerable’, whereas high-level threatened species (meaning they’re on the brink of extinction) are classified as ‘endangered’.

The reason for becoming ‘threatened’ includes habitat loss, such as from too much or too little fire, competition from weeds, too many herbivores (plant-eaters) like rabbits, feral goats and kangaroos, predation by introduced species like foxes and feral cats, disturbance during breeding, diseases and more.

Today, South Australia has more than 1000 species (828 plants, 324 animals) that are considered threatened at a state-level and about 200 at a national-level. This is because species that are threatened in SA can also occur in other states and territories, where they may be less or more of them.

Baking suggestions

To help you with your Bake Off entries, we’ve come up with a list of five of South Australia’s threatened species that you may like to use as inspiration for your entry:

1. Hooded plover

Hooded plovers are small, beach-nesting birds with a distinctive black hood. They are found along several of SA’s sandy beaches in the metropolitan area, as well as on beaches in the far west to the Limestone Coast, as well as Kangaroo Island.

Coastal development, disturbance and a range of predators are the major threats to plovers.

They usually nest at the base of sand dunes from August to March, and are very protective parents but their nest and chicks come under threat as they persistently disturbed by vehicles, dogs, humans and foxes. 

Local communities, land managers, landscape boards and BirdLife Australia volunteers are working hard to monitor, protect and raise awareness about these birds.

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2. Grey-headed flying fox

Grey-headed flying foxes can be found foraging at night across metropolitan Adelaide, with a significant camp at Botanic Park in the city. Another colony has been located near Millicent in the south-east of SA.

With a wingspan of nearly 1 metre, these flying foxes are among the world’s largest bats. Despite their size, they are strictly vegetarian and feed predominantly on nectar from Eucalypt blossoms and fruit.

They roost in trees during the day and fly out at sunset to their feeding grounds, sometimes up to 50km away.

They forage on the wide variety of tree species planted in cities. In Adelaide, they are regularly observed in spotted gums, lemon-scented gums and Morten Bay fig trees.

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(Image courtesy of Vivien Jones)

3. Common brush-tailed possum

This threatened species was once widespread across much of SA but has experienced a severe range contraction since European colonisation, with the species now confined to southern areas of SA like the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and the South East.

They have adapted well to city life and it is here that they can occur in reasonably high densities. Their abundance in the city really contrasts the significant declines they have experienced elsewhere.

There have been recent efforts to re-introduce this species into the Flinders Ranges.

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4. Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo

Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo regularly venture into metropolitan areas to feed on seeds in various introduced pine tree species, particularly Aleppo pines.

Importantly, over their summer breeding period, pairs can be observed venturing into Adelaide to feed and then return to the adjacent Mount Lofty Ranges to feed their chicks in the nest.

In the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region, there are believed to be fewer than 800 breeding pairs of yellow-tailed black-cockatoos, so the ability of our urban trees to support breeding birds is encouraging.

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(Image courtesy of Duncan McCaskill)

5. Sandhill greenhood

The sandhill greenhood orchid is an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation-listed orchid that’s found in metropolitan Adelaide on the Grange golf course.

Teams of people have worked with this population of orchids over the years to ensure that threats such as weeds are managed.

The work has paid off with the population increasing in size and the site playing a very important part in the national conservation of this species.

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Get baking!

Love South Australia’s fauna? Check out our library of Animal Encounters stories to learn about some iconic favourites, as well as the lesser-known species that we’re fortunate to be sharing our state with.

Main image: Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (courtesy of Duncan McCaskill)

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