Do you know how the peafowls first arrived on Rottnest Island?
Historians have been sifting through the archives trying to shed some light on how and when these birds with their loud, scream-like call made their way to the Island.
It seems they arrived on Rottnest via the Zoo last century.
The Environment Policy on Management of Peacocks records that the peafowl were brought over as a gift to the Governor, Sir Gerald Strickland, in 1912. His wife, Lady Edeline, participated in breeding animals for the Acclimatisation Committee (a part of the Zoological Gardens in Perth).
The Zoo had received gifts of peafowl from the Melbourne Zoo in 1902, there was an auction of the over-stocked zoo animals, including peafowl (including tigers and bears). Members of the public, circuses and other private zoos purchased animals at the auction.
There is information in newspapers of the era (1902 – 1916) that tell of the Acclimatisation Committee releasing animals (fish and game birds, including peafowls) into the bush of the south west to provide dietary variation and sport.
The Acclimatisation Committee noted in the Western Mail on Saturday 15 January 1910 that “both guinea fowl and peacocks were sent to Rottnest recently and there will be kept under observation so that the wisdom or otherwise of distributing further numbers may be determined.”
There are currently only male peacocks left on the island to inhibit breeding. Look out for these large birds on your next visit to Rottnest!