Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rarest kiwi species reintroduced to New Zealand’s North Island

Return of rarest kiwi to North Island after hundreds of years absence
June 2012. Rowi, the world's rarest kiwi species, is returning to the North Island after an absence of hundreds of years.
Mana Island - Predator free
Twenty juvenile rowi will be going to Mana Island, near Wellington, to establish a new colony in the hope of improving the breeding prospects for the species. Normally they would be going home to Ōkārito, in South Westland, from their crèche on Motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound.
"By sending a juvenile population north to predator-free Mana Island, we're making it possible for the rowi to breed with much less human interference," says Iain Graham, BNZ Operation Nest EggTM Ranger.
"We expect that the absence of predator pressure, better breeding conditions and less competition for territories will ensure that the Mana Island rowi produce a high number of chicks that can eventually become part of the home population in Ōkārito."
Eggs hatched and reared in safety
The Department of Conservation removed the 20 rowi eggs from the Ōkārito forest to protect them from predators - stoats and other introduced pests - as part of BNZ Operation Nest EggTM. After they were hatched at the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef, the chicks were raised to maturity on predator-free Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds. The juveniles are now ready for their long term OE. The rowi will be transferred by New Zealand Air Force helicopter from Ngāti Toa Domain across to Mana Island.
Rowi population growing
Thanks to conservation efforts led by DOC and the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, rowi numbers have slowly been increasing from a low of fewer than 200 birds in 2007.
Pest control in Ōkārito forest is ongoing but reinvasion rates of stoats and rats mean that supplementing natural breeding using the BNZ Operation Nest EggTM programme has guaranteed a better level of success in producing young adult rowi.

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