Saving New Zealand’s rare takahe


This video from New Zealand is called Takahe at TiriTiri Matangi. One of the world’s rarest birds.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record number of critically endangered Takahe chicks born

22/02/2010 22:16:55

Burwood takahe breeding facility bursting at the seams

February 2010. The road to recovery for the critically endangered takahe just got a little easier with a record number of chicks born on the islands this summer. At least 21 chicks hatched on predator free island sanctuaries and, for the first time, the small mainland population on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato, produced a chick.

Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit

To prevent over crowding on the islands, eight chicks will soon be winging their way to the Department of Conservation’s Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit, near Te Anau, Southland, to be matched with the unit’s breeding pairs. Their March arrival, combined with the 12 chicks already at Burwood, will be the largest number of young takahe the unit has cared for during a breeding season.

Mr Tisch says the transfer of the chicks from the islands to the rearing unit is an important step towards releasing them into wild. He added that the islands’ breeding pairs are a vital part of the recovery programme as they act as insurance populations in case something goes wrong in the wild.

“Their time here allows them to be trained by the other birds to feed from tussock and get used to the colder temperatures down here.”

Once the chicks are nearly a year-old they will be released into an extensively trapped area in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park. It’s estimated that there are about 100 birds in the Murchison Mountains with the remainder on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds, Mana and Kapiti Island Nature Reserve north of Wellington off the Wairarapa Coast, Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf northeast of Auckland, and on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato.

Takahe facts

* Takahe transfers are used to manage to the genetics on the islands and try and prevent in-breeding and over-crowding.
* Keeping numbers at the optimal level on the islands helps breeding. If a bird can’t get a territory, it can’t breed, and it will fight for a territory.

May 2010: Rare and endangered birds are returning to the islands of Ipipiri, or Eastern Bay of Islands, in New Zealand, after a project to clear them of pests: here.

January 2011. Two rare takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) have been reintroduced into Wellington’s world-first wildlife sanctuary, ZEALANDIA. This is only the second such translocation of this species into the wild on the North Island. The flightless takahē are a real New Zealand oddity; once thought to be extinct, takahē were rediscovered in 1948 in a remote Fiordland valley. Thanks to an intensive programme of captive breeding, translocations, stoat control and deer culling spearheaded by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), the takahē population has seen a gradual increase from a low of 112 birds in 1981 to the current population of 225 birds: here.

The tiny island of Kapiti, located five miles off the coast of Wellington, New Zealand, is one of the last refuges for a menagerie of wildlife driven to near-extinction elsewhere by invasive species. Since the late 1980s, when all non-native animals were meticulously cleared from the island, it has been designated as a sanctuary, an important safe-haven for a host of birds species unaccustomed to predatory mammals. Late last year, however, a single stoat was spotted on the pristine island — prompting an intensive, three month long search for the rogue “killing machine”: here.

Pukeko: here. And here.

2 thoughts on “Saving New Zealand’s rare takahe

  1. End of an era as birds euthanised

    By AMY MILNE – The Southland Times

    Last updated 05:00 26/02/2010

    DOC takahe programme manager Phil Tisch with Alpine, the oldest known takahe

    BYE, BYE BIRDIE: DOC takahe programme manager Phil Tisch with Alpine, the oldest known takahe, who was euthanised this week. She joins Sass the kakapo in birdie heaven.

    Two of New Zealand’s rarest and oldest native birds have died.

    One of the founding Stewart Island kakapo, discovered 30 years ago, along with one of the first birds in the takahe recovery programme and the longest-surviving takahe, were euthanised this week.

    Department of Conservation kakapo recovery team leader Deidre Vercoe said kakapo Sass’ health had been deteriorating but had worsened during the past three months and he had to be euthanised yesterday.

    “He was just skin and bones and had cataracts in both eyes and was possibly suffering kidney failure,” Ms Vercoe said.

    Like 34 per cent of New Zealand’s kakapo, Sass’ age was unknown.

    He was found in April 1980 and was one of the first two kakapo to be transferred to Codfish Island in July 1987. His genetics were well spread, having fathered six and being grandfather of three.

    Sass’ passing takes the world kakapo population to 123.

    “He will be greatly missed, but it’s really cool that his legacy lives on,” Ms Vercoe said.

    Meanwhile, “pioneer takahe” Alpine, who captivated thousands of visitors to the Te Anau Wildlife Park for 27 years, was euthanised after she was deemed too fragile for surgery to treat a leg infection.

    The old bird began her life as an egg in a garage at the Wildlife Park in Te Anau after being removed from the Fiordland National Park’s Murchison Mountains in 1982.

    She and two other takahe eggs were artificially incubated, hatched and then hand-raised in the garage by Martin Bell, a New Zealand Wildlife Service officer.

    DOC takahe ranger Linda Kilduff said Alpine signified the start of the takahe recovery programme. “She was one of the pioneer takahe who were hand raised while the techniques of artificial incubation and using takahe hand puppets to avoid human imprinting were being developed,” Ms Kilduff said.

    There are now about 230 takahe – 100 in the Murchison Mountains, 100 on predator-free islands and a further 30 at Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit.

  2. Pingback: Endangered New Zealand birds released | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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