Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 877 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia

Site description
Pormpuraaw IBA is located 660 km from Cairns on the central west coast of the Cape York Peninsula. The IBA consists of a coastal dune system in which the swales support freshwater swamps and the dune crests support some rainforest scrubs. Tidal mudflats, seasonally inundated with freshwater, form the eastern boundary of the IBA, mangrove-lined rivers form the northern and southern boundary, and broad coastal sand flats form the eastern boundary. The rainforest associations are at the southern end of their distribution on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, and the ephemeral grasslands associated with the wetlands are at the northern end of the Gulf Plains systems that make up the Gulf Plains IBA. The settlement of Pormpuraaw lies at its centre with the freshwater lagoon of a crocodile farm providing a focus for many birds. The gradual increase in the human population of Pormpuraaw will inevitably lead to some alienation of the centre of the IBA and disturbance, particularly along the beaches, but the core feature of the site, the crocodile farm and its permanent freshwater lagoon, rely on the presence of the community. Many other features of the site are replicated in similar, little-changed, areas to the north and south. This lagoon is under threat as the crocodile breeding system is out-dated and, without the incentive to maintain the lagoon, it would go dry. The freshwater itself, and the ephemeral freshwater wetlands, are also under threat from climate change since even a small rise in sea level will have a profound effect on hydrology in such a flat landscape.

Key biodiversity
The diverse range of wetlands and forest types in the IBA support several species of birds. The Radjah Shelduck is found in Pormpuraaw during the dry season, flocks of up to 200 sometimes feed on coastal flats, small numbers and thought to breed in dune swale swamps in wet season; Intertidal flats support migratory over-wintering waders, particularly on passage as they move north in March, and many tropical tern species roost on the beach. Grasslands, at sites where there is a substantial freshwater influence, support a range of finches including Crimson Finch (Endangered in Qld), Double-barred Finch and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin in coastal systems and, less commonly, Black-throated Finch and Pictorella Mannikin east of the dune system. In these areas Zitting Cisticola and Red-chested Button-quail are among the notable species. The rainforest communities support a range of honeyeaters, Red-browed Finch and Yellow White-eye, a bird more usually associated with mangroves. The mangrove community itself has Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher and Black Butcherbird.

Non-bird biodiversity: Saltwater Crocodiles occur in the rivers and are the basis of the crocodile farming at the site. Brush-tailed Possums, which have almost disappeared from Cape York Peninsula, are still seen occasionally.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pormpuraaw. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/02/2021.