New Zealand kiwis released into the wild


This video from New Zealand is called Newly Hatched Western North Island Brown Kiwi.

From the Waikato Times in New Zealand:

Releasing kiwis into the wild

RACHEL THOMAS

We’re five minutes late through the door so collect dirty looks from tourists in bedazzled hats and souvenir T-shirts.

Myself and lens man Mike Scott are here for the 61st liberation of kiwi on Sanctuary Mountain in Pukeatua, and these kiwi seekers are impatient to begin the wild mission.

Parawera, a seven-month-old North Island Western brown kiwi who was rescued from Waimarino Forest, will be tracked, weighed, measured and examined to ensure she’s ready to move into the main enclosure where she can roam, breed and forage in a 3500-hectare certified predator-free haven.

Leading the way is kiwi tracking dog Bella, who is certified by the Department of Conservation to sniff out new chicks.

This is the coolest thing Max Cook, 6, has done all school holidays, and he’s on high alert. “Is that a kiwi?” he whispers in the direction of a robin.

Max, of Hukanui School, has seen kiwi once before in a “big glass jar” in a zoo in a place he can’t remember.

Biodiversity ranger Mark Lammas leads our gang of 15 into the southern enclosure. This is the kiwi creche, where the trust raises western brown birds before releasing them on to the main mountain.

“To begin with our aim was to get between 30 and 40 unrelated [kiwi] birds on to the main mountain and that was our founder population – from there those birds can be self-sustainable.”

Bella leads our trail, helped by blue antennae that pick up transmitters strapped onto each kiwi’s ankle. Each one emits a different signal, and we listen for the blip-blip of Parawera. It’s a game of hot and cold.

Bella pokes her nose into a burrow where Parawera was moments earlier.

The antennae give us joy next to a valley of fern and punga. Weaving through tangled webs of vines and tripping sticks, our troop descends into the bush. Lammas, Bella and kiwi handler Nola Griggs-Tamaki split from us to find the kiwi. We wait. Max makes a fan from a leaf and a stick. Kiwi ingenuity.

Finally with a rustle and a hush, Lammas emerges from behind the vines with a shape tucked into his jumper.

Bella sniffed her out from in the base of a hollowed tree.

Lammas wants me to hold her while he does the health check. Quick tutorial – finger between the ankles, firm grip on her legs, hand under her bum, “please don’t crush her”, and our national icon is trembling in my arms.

Her feathers feel like toe toe and her tiny heart is racing. This is her midnight and we’re a foreign dream.

At 1.2kg, the birds are considered large enough to fend off an attack from a stoat.

Parawera is strong and healthy at 1.35kg. Lammas says her “back steaks” are in great shape. It’s what they like to see, plenty of meat.

“I thought she was going to be smaller,” Max confesses, “but I felt her feet and they were a little squishy.”

Sanctuary Mountain has capacity for 300 pairs of kiwi, Lammas says. That should be reached in the next 10 or 20 years, then the trust will begin exporting kiwi from the mountain “and inject them into places where kiwi have become locally extinct”.

Our troop ceremoniously gathers around the base of a hollow tree, where a dark window invites Parawera to her new world.

Lammas can’t articulate what he feels in this moment. “There’s a part of liberating our national icon, words can’t express it. There’s a great sense of pride . . . to turn around the decline of kiwi.”

Bella stands guard, a watchdog in every sense of the word. Lammas releases her into the chasm then drags some weighty green ferns over the top.

Goodnight, kiwi.

Rising kiwi numbers may mask inbreeding depression: here

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