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Albatross chicks get a second home and a second chance

Albatross chicks get a second home and a second chance

The Chatham Island’s Taiko Trust is spearheading a conservation project that has never before been undertaken in New Zealand.

The Trust is working to translocate a number of endangered Chatham Island Albatross chicks from their current breeding ground, to a second site, to help ensure the sea birds’ survival.

The initial colony is breeding on an isolated rocky outcrop south of Pitt Island, known as The Pyramid. Unfortunately, due to a lack of addition breeding space, the population of this colony hasn’t been able to grow.

The species is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its status cannot be improved without the establishment of a second colony.
A number of chicks have already been moved from The Pyramid to the release site at Point Gap, on the south west coast of Main Chatham, private land owned by Bruce and Liz Tuanui, long term conservation campaigners and a key project partner. This will continue to happen every summer for the next three years.

The translocated chicks are released into an artificial albatross colony. This includes artificial nests, model adult albatross and a sound system playing Chatham Island albatross calls. The chicks are monitored daily, and hand feed until fledging in three to four months’ time.

Project Manager, Mike Bell says, “The chicks are being feed daily on squid, salmon and mackerel.
“Thankfully, we have Sealord helping out with the squid which makes up 70% of their diet; it’s a hugely important part of this project so we’re really lucky.”

The Albatross chicks eat around 15 kg of seafood a day.

“The Taiko Trust are doing such good work, they’re the heroes. We’re just happy to have been able to help out in a small way,” says Sealord’s Supply Chain and Logistics Manager, Roy Dawson.

The only other organisation in the world to have translocated Albatross is the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology in Japan. Both the Yamashina Institute and the Taiko Trust group are working closely on the Chatham’s to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“This is a ground breaking project, and is the first time that anything like this has been carried out in NZ,” says Bell.


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