Takahe release may help save species
Sat, 06 Oct 2012 6:08p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
It's hoped the release of two takahe at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay will be a turning point in saving the critically endangered species.
The species has come back from the brink before. Once takahe were considered extinct.
There are still fewer than 300 of the native birds, but two – a male and a female – are now in what's being called a private lifeboat.
Takahe fossils lie in the sand dunes at Cape Kidnappers, though the North Island species was wiped out long ago.
“It's just a milestone,” says Cape Sanctuary owner Andy Lowe. “This is 12 years in the making from when we first dreamt about this project. It wasn't in our wildest dreams we'd have takahe here in 12 years.”
With backing from an American millionaire, Mr Lowe has spent millions turning it into a wildlife sanctuary.
A key element is its predator-proof fence that alone cost around $300 a metre and is more than 10km long.
“It has cost a lot of money but in ecological terms it's nothing,” says Mr Lowe. “We're talking about saving species for future generations.”
Like moa, takahe once dominated New Zealand’s landscape, but were all but wiped out by people and the predators they introduced.
Takahe were considered to be extinct until 1948, when a small population was found hidden in Fiordland's Murchison Mountains. There were fewer than 300 birds. Despite more than 60 years of conservation, the population has continued to decline and today there are fewer than 260 individual takahe.
“More can always be done,” says DOC Te Anau takahe ranger Phil Marsh. “The reality is if we've got more money to put towards takahe conservation we can do more with it.”
The privately funded Cape Sanctuary is crucial. But with just 50 breeding pairs remaining, can they really come back?
“It's definitely possible,” says Mr Marsh.
“I feel quite privileged that we've been entrusted with the care of these birds,” says Cape Sanctuary manager Tamsin Ward-Smith. “[I] feel highly responsible. It's a huge task.”
If successful, more takahe will fly north. For now, the pair is settling in well. But the question now is – will they breed?
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15/10/2012 5:50:53 p.m.
We definitely need to do a lot more so we can save the forest and the animals living in it. This is a good start. We should make sure that the future generation will still have the chance to see these beautiful creatures.
Heads up: I bet some kids are interested in nurturing our environment too. Might as well introduce them to the right ways. You can let them try Maddie&Matt's Happy Earth for one. It's good for them.
9/10/2012 7:34:15 p.m.
Zealandia has a retired breeding pair that are stll trying so as long as Cape Kidnappers is predatoe free I don't see wht it wouldn't be a success.
9/10/2012 9:16:22 a.m.
Hopefully DoC and AHB will stop pouring 1080 poison over our forests and waterways - killing our native birds and poisoning our environment.
See the evidence at tvwild.co.nz
7/10/2012 1:53:37 p.m.
Excellent story that was really enjoyed but please, correct pronunciation of the name Takahe soon turned to annoying cringe with the constant "Taka-hay"... Just remember the a,e,i,o,u sounds and go from there... I'm sure you know enough about this stuff!!!
7/10/2012 9:20:28 a.m.
Margaret Jeune wrote:
Wonderful news thanks to the vision and backing of Andy Lowe.I hope the takahe breed in the Cape sanctuary so that the species can be saved.
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