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Kiwi numbers benefit from conservation investment

5 June 2002 Media Statement
Kiwi numbers will benefit from government investment in conservation


Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has announced that $1.77m (GST incl.) has been allocated to Kiwi sanctuaries this year, as part of a five year funding commitment made in the government's first Budget.

"In year 2000, we allocated $10m specifically for kiwi conservation over a five year period in a huge $187m boost for conservation," Ms Lee said. "More money is now spent each year on kiwi conservation than on any other species."

Ms Lee said one of the very first priorities of the Clark-Anderton government was the need to mount an urgent rescue programme for kiwi.

"The neglect of conservation funding under the previous administrations was shameful and one casualty of that was the kiwi. More seemed to be done by the Bank of New Zealand as kiwi sponsor for kiwi than by the National government.

"As a result of this major funding boost for kiwi, five kiwi sanctuaries have been established on the mainland covering more than 40 000 hectares.

"In these areas there is intensive management of pests such as stoats, possums and ferrets, and where needed of kiwi itself. This has included Operation Nest Egg where kiwi eggs are removed from the wild and the young kiwi raised in captivity until they are large enough to fend off stoat attacks, at which time they are returned to the wild."

Ms Lee said Forest and Bird was fully involved in the development of the Kiwi sanctuaries.

"The good news is that in these sanctuaries the survival rate of kiwi chicks has risen dramatically from just 6% to rates ranging from 25 to 75% across the five sanctuaries.

"Outside the sanctuaries, kiwi are obviously in trouble but the sanctuaries ensure the survival of populations of the most at-risk kiwi species: North Island brown kiwi in Northland, Coromandel and Tongariro, and the Okarito brown kiwi at Okarito, and Haast tokoeka, on the Haast range. The government actions have almost certainly saved these kiwi species from extinction.

"Intensive work is also underway on stoat control research to find new and more effective ways of controlling stoats.
"The reality is that until we are much more effective in controlling stoats, then kiwi and many other species of native wildlife will continue to decline outside areas under costly intensive management.

"We need also to recognise, tough as it is, that kiwi are not the only species on the mainland under serious threat.

"The mohua or yellowhead is an example of a species that is being eaten to extinction by rats and stoats. It is now at greater risk than kiwi.

"New Zealand is cursed with some of the worst pest introductions known in the history of ecology.

"Forest and Bird’s despair is understandable but the organisation also needs to recognise that this government has committed more dollars to conservation than any previous government.

"We will continue to put conservation high up on our priorities."

ENDS

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