Rare kiwi land on Motutapu Island
Tue, 23 Oct 2012 10:34p.m.
By Adam Hollingworth
Just over a year since Motutapu Island was declared predator-free, five of New Zealand's rarest species of kiwi were flown from Coromandel Peninsula.
Conservationists have brought together kiwi from different family groups in the Coromandel in an attempt to strengthen the gene pool. There are only 1,500 Coromandel brown kiwi left and they live in small pockets on the peninsula.
This tribe of kiwi consists of one breeding couple, two juveniles and one chick just 11 days old, appropriately called Motutapu.
“I think he did well, you know, it's been a big day for him. He's got a great opportunity now to settle down in his burrow and tonight he'll be out exploring the great habitat that's been created for him with the other four kiwi,” says Department of Conservation (DoC) project manager Andrew Nelson.
Rob Fenwick was chosen to release Motutapu the kiwi.
“It's quite an emotional experience," he says. "In a sense it's a celebration because the bird's been released into a pest-free island and it's likely to be safe but it's also slightly tragic."
Tragic because 95 percent of kiwi living in unprotected areas die before they reach breeding age, but DoC has spent two years clearing Motutapu and Rangitoto of pests.
“So to have a predator free island of this iconic nature here and being able to release kiwis back here it's just fantastic,” says DoC commercial director David Wilks.
A total of 100,000 people visit Rangitoto and Motutapu every year but DoC now keeps a dog on Motutapu to sniff out stoats, rats and mice.
The release to these burrows is the culmination of 16 years of effort by conservation groups on the Coromandel, it's hoped once the chicks are reared they'll be released back to the peninsula.
Over the next four to six years up to 50 Coromandel brown kiwi will be brought in to live and - it's hoped - to breed.
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