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After great season, more kiwi roam near Whakatane

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After a great breeding season, more kiwi roam the hills near Whakatane

For immediate release: Wednesday 10 May 2006

At least 30 kiwi are known to be roaming the hills near Whakatane thanks to a joint project that aims to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s iconic bird in the Bay of Plenty.

The Whakatane Kiwi Project is a partnership involving the community, iwi and a range of regional and national organisations. Its goal is to establish a sustainable population of kiwi in and around the Ohope Scenic Reserve over the next 10 years.

“And we’re getting there,” says project manager Tansy Bliss of the Department of Conservation. After what she calls “the best season yet”, the reserve now hosts nine new young birds with another three taken to Moutohora (Whale) Island, which is predator-free.

It means a total of 30 kiwi now live in and around the reserve and 11 on the island. Another five pairs are being monitored in the Waiotahi Pine plantation about 30 kms away. Later, their offspring will contribute to the gene pool at Ohope and on Moutohora, Ms Bliss explains.

Five years ago, only four pairs of kiwi were known to survive in the Ohope Scenic Reserve. Supported by Environment Bay of Plenty’s Environmental Enhancement Fund, the Department of Conservation had grown that number to 19 by late last year.

In September 2005, Environment Bay of Plenty and the Department of Conservation formally committed to a long-term partnership. Ngati Awa, private landowners, the Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust, the Whakatane Kiwi Trust, and Whakatane District Council are also involved in the project.

Without management, the population of the North Island brown kiwi is estimated to decrease by 6% each year. When left to fend for themselves, very few kiwi chicks survive stoats and other predators, including domestic cats and dogs.

Because of this, Environment Bay of Plenty controls predators by setting traps for stoats, ferrets, and feral cats. Local residents are also asked to make sure no dogs enter Ohope Scenic Reserve, Mokoroa Scenic Reserve and Kohi Point.

A new breeding season starts in June. The first eggs will probably be removed in mid-September for hatching at Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua.


Dog control important to project success

A stray dog could decimate the Ohope Scenic Reserve population of kiwi in a single night. It is vital people keep their dogs under control near the area. While Burma Road, which runs through the reserve, is a designated dog exercise area, dogs must be on a leash. No dogs are allowed off the road and into the reserve itself.


ENDS

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