July 20, 2016 Projects No Comments


RBCN logoThe Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) is an affiliation of individuals, groups and organisations dedicated to the conservation of the Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) and its host plants, the Richmond birdwing vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and mountain aristolochia (P. laheyana).

The RBCN strives to achieve this by establishing vine refuges, as well as creating awareness and support for conservation in the broader community.

The Network partners with other like-minded organisations and provides members with science-based information to cultivate and care for birdwing vines.


Richmond birdwing butterfly videos
Watch these videos to learn more about the amazing Richmond birdwing butterfly and the captive breeding and release program being conducted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and supported by the RBCN and David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Male Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) Photo © Jennifer Broomhall

Male Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) Photo © Jennifer Broomhall

Get involved

There are lots of different ways you can get involved and help the Richmond birdwing butterfly.

Significant projects

Recovering the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly – Coordinated Corridors Project

The Norman Wettenhall FoundationThe RBCN has completed work on a detailed desktop map of targeted Richmond birdwing habitat corridors locations across South East Queensland. Key locations and properties within the defined area can now be ground-truthed for mapping accuracy and suitability as vine planting locations. The RBCN has funds for over 1000 vines to be planted within the corridor where suitability is determined; this is the next phase of the corridor project.

Support for this critical project has been provided by the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. The Norman Wettenhall Foundation supports biodiversity conservation projects Australia-wide and the RBCN are indebted for the Foundation’s support with this project.

Would you plant a birdwing butterfly vine to help save the Richmond birdwing butterfly?
Habitat corridor map

Richmond birdwing regional habitat corridor SEQ – map

The Richmond birdwing regional habitat corridor map (Fig 1.) identifies a corridor in South East Queensland that needs vines to save the species.

Please email birdwing@wildlife.org.au if your property falls within the orange or green areas on the map and you would like to plant a vine to help build a birdwing corridor.

Click on the map image to the left to enlarge. Or download the map (pdf)



Ongoing projects & activities

Captive Rearing and Release Project
Pupae at David Fleay Wildlife Park Photo © Jenny Thynne

Pupae at David Fleay Wildlife Park
Photo © Jenny Thynne

In 2008, the Department of Environment and Science, along with the RBCN and David Fleay Wildlife Park, began a joint project to help conserve the Richmond birdwing butterfly using a captive breeding and release strategy. Under the breeding program, Richmond birdwings from geographically separate sources have been mated with the aim of producing more genetically diverse offspring. These captive-reared progenies have been reintroduced at selected sites to help restore wild populations. Following the first releases in 2010, evidence of natural breeding by the butterfly and more than a dozen flying adults were seen in the Kin Kin and Cootharaba areas of the Sunshine Coast for the first time in almost two decades.

Since the program was initiated, more than 350 Richmond birdwing individuals, mostly larvae and pupae, have been reintroduced across nine sites in south-east Queensland.

Latest updates: 

In May 2018, the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust generally donated £500 to the RBCN to put towards the acquisition of vines to support the Richmond birdwing captive breeding and release project. Read the full report here (pdf).

In 2019 the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust further provided a small grant to Wildlife Queensland to assist in the captive breeding and release of the Richmond birdwing in eastern Australia, complementing the support being given by local communities and government.

Critical breeding work as part of this project is currently being carried out at David Fleay Wildlife Park.

Flagship Corridors
Conservation Volunteers Australia planting birdwing vines which will hopefully attract the birdwing butterfly back to Brisbane's western suburbs. Photo © Greg Siepen

Conservation Volunteers Australia planting birdwing vines which will hopefully attract the birdwing butterfly back to Brisbane’s western suburbs. Photo © Greg Siepen

Several sites and wildlife corridors have been identified in South East Queensland that are vitally important to the survival of the Richmond birdwing vine and butterfly. These sites are in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, western suburbs of Brisbane and Currumbin area of the Gold Coast. Sites in northern NSW have yet to be determined.

Areas will be cleared of weeds, sometimes with the assistance of Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), and groups of up to 30 vines will be planted and maintained at each site.

Community workshops and field days
  • Restoring Richmond birdwing habitats
  • Supporting scientific research
  • Hands-on school projects
  • Creating flagship corridors by planting vines
  • Educational publications
  • Removing Dutchman’s pipevines

Past projects

The WPSQ ‘ 500 Vines Project’

In 2017, Wildlife Queensland launched its Bring Back the Birdwing: 500 Vines appeal to raise funds to plant 500 vines essential to the survival of this vulnerable native species. The project involved propagating and growing the vines in selected nurseries, planting them in strategically chosen locations and then maintaining them to ensure they have the best opportunity to survive.

Read more

The WPSQ ‘1000 Vines Project’: starting corridors for restoring birdwing populations

In 2014, Wildlife Queensland raised funds for, and organised the planting of, 1000 host vines for the Richmond birdwing across carefully selected sites in Queensland’s south-east.

Latest news

March 2020 – RBCN visits David Fleay Wildlife Park

The RBCN recently visited David Fleay Wildlife Park on Queensland’s Gold Coast where a Richmond birdwing captive breeding program is currently underway.

Read more

June 2019 – RBCN launches new habitat corridor to save the Richmond birdwing butterfly

Members of the RBCN and Samford Eco-Corridor joined forces on Sunday, 9 June to launch a new habitat corridor project aimed at helping save the Richmond birdwing butterfly.

Read more

June 2018 – Three thumbs up for projects

In early 2018, Logan City Council contributed funds and labour to help the RBCN plant over 230 birdwing butterfly vines in five locations south-east of Brisbane.

Read more

July 2018 – Banking on the birdwing

Wildlife Queensland’s Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network is proud to have been selected as one of 12 recipients of a Bank Australia 2018 Customer Grant to help plant a corridor of birdwing butterfly vines between Samford and Woodford in South East Queensland.

Read more

March 2018 – Birdwing really taking off

The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) has noticed a groundswell of activity across South East Queensland aiding the recovery of this remarkable vulnerable species.

Read more

RBCN newsletter

View the latest RBCN newsletter, Birdwing News. Don’t receive this regular RBCN update? Sign up here!

Species profile

Resources & information

Factsheets and brochures:


Price includes FREE shipping within Australia. Proceeds go to help the recovery of the Richmond birdwing butterfly through the work of Wildlife Queensland’s RBCN.

Reports & publications:

  • Host vines for use in the captive breeding and release program – project report (Oct 2019)
  • Pyper, W. (2001). Changing habitat.  Ecos 106:  22-25
  • Pyper, W. (2002). Butterfly effect: rethinking butterfly conservation. Wildlife Australia Magazine 39(4): 14-17.
  • Sands, D. (1996). Birdwing blues. Wildlife Australia Magazine 33(1): 7-9.
  • Sands, D.P.A. and Scott, S. (eds) (2002). Conservation of Birdwing Butterflies. SciComEd Pty Ltd, Marsden, Qld.
  • Sands, D. (2008). Conserving the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly over two decades: Where to next?  Ecological Management & Restoration 9(1): 4-16


For more information on WPSQ’s other projects, email or phone +61 (7) 3844 0129.

Written by wildlife1ict

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