Gulf Islands welcome feathery new residents
Sat, 27 Aug 2011 6:11p.m.
By Jenny Suo
Auckland's Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands have welcomed two of the country's rarest birds after being officially declared pest-free today.
The Department of Conservation has been working on the islands for 20 years and it is now the largest pest free island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
Two breeding pairs of takahe will now call Motutapu Island home, and to keep them company will be 20 saddlebacks, another native bird brought back from the brink of extinction.
It cost $3.6 million to rid the islands of pests including possums, rats, and even wallabies, but the Conservation Minister says it's worth it.
“Takehe is an amazing bird, we thought it was extinct in 1948, we only have 250 of them, and they're just part of who we are. We need to do what we can protect them and let them multiply,” says Kate Wilkinson.
Tangata whenua, volunteers and their family members welcomed the birds onto Motutapu Island. It's a day that DOC staff have been working towards for 20 years.
“That exercise has been the most complex and challenging the department has ever undertaken, we had seven eradication programs in one hit, and that’s been a major triumph for us,” says Brett Butland of the Department of Conservation.
During that time, the island's restoration trust has planted more than 400,000 plants in the area. It's hoped the island makeover will also attract more tourists
“This is so accessible, its with in half an hour from the CBD in Auckland, so its so easy for people to come over and see what we have,” says Ms Wilkinson.
And with that comes a greater need for strict monitoring to ensure the pests stay out.
In time as many as 30 species of endangered native wildlife are expected to be released on to these islands, so the takehe will soon be joined by kiwi, tuatara and other species of native reptile.
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23/11/2011 12:52:27 p.m.
herbert is the man
8/10/2011 12:06:57 p.m.
Well said Mat. I agree. What a brilliant project and educational tool to teach the new generation the right direction, hopefully in 100 years from now vast parts of the country will have been restored.
Great Barrier and Stewart Islands next !!!!
28/08/2011 12:27:01 p.m.
This is so awesome, I was lucky enough to see Takehe at Zealandia in Wellington, it's great we are putting in the effort to try and restore our beautiful country to the way it once was. I hope that as these ecological sanctuaries become more abundant, that we start to try some really ambitious ones- like the whole Coromandel Peninsula or something like that. It'd take law changes and lifestyle changes for a lot of people (no cats etc), as well as an enormous eradication programme (not to mention fence!) but I think it would be worth it to have Takehe Kiwi and other birdlife in great numbers on mainland NZ again.
27/08/2011 7:55:04 p.m.
Eileen Keane wrote:
Absolutely awesome :)
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