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Young kakï are “doing the wild thing”

27/5/02

Young kakï (black stilts) raised and released by the Department of Conservation are behaving just as wild birds should, according to DOC staff.

Of the eight wild kakï pairs that produced eggs in the 2001/2002 breeding season, two were new pairs formed by birds that were raised in captivity and released into the wild in last the few years.

“We’ve released large numbers of young kakï in recent years, and the older ones are just starting to reach breeding age and form pairs,” said acting Programme Manager Simon Elkington. “It’s very encouraging because it further confirms that captive reared birds can breed successfully in the wild. They can form pair bonds and produce fertile eggs, just like wild-raised birds.”

Mr Elkington said that new pairs are needed to compensate for the loss of established wild pairs, and to increase the number of wild pairs.

“A greater number of breeding pairs should help achieve the long-term goal of the Kakï Recovery Programme, which is to have 250 breeding adults by 2011,” he said.

At present there are just 39 adults in the wild, but the kakï population has steadily increased over recent years. DOC are optimistic that the upward trend will continue as more young released birds reach breeding age and are recruited into the adult population.

Kakï were once widespread throughout most of New Zealand, but the spread of introduced predators and habitat modification resulted in a widespread and sustained decline. They are now essentially restricted to the Mackenzie Basin and are classified as a Category A endangered species, the highest priority for conservation.

At this stage, captive rearing and release of young birds is an important focus of the Kakï Recovery Programme. Captive management is seen as a temporary measure however, and in the long-term, research-based management of the wild kakï population will be needed to address the causes of kakï decline.

The Kakï Recovery Programme is fully funded by the Department of Conservation.

ENDS

easier it will be to boost the wild population to a non-critical

“New pairs will be increasingly important if the wild population is to increase,” said Mr Elkington. “New pairs formed by young birds are needed not only offset losses of breeding adults, but also to increase the pool of productive wild pairs.”

Kaki pairs mate for life, though if one partner dies, it’s mate will re-pair. Mr E


Mr Elkington said that new pairs formed by young released birds will become increasingly important to achieving population growth.

“Increasingly we will rely on these new pairs to help boost the wild population,” says Mr Elkington. “Each year, some old pairs are lost, and new pairs are needed to help offset these losses and add to the pool of productive wild pairs.”

DOC’s Kaki Recovery Programme aims to increase the number of breeding kaki to 250, by 2011, and progress is encouraging.

“It takes a few years for kaki to reach breeding age so the birds we release have to survive at least a year before they can contribute to the wild population. We’ve released large numbers of young birds over the last few years and they are just starting to reach breeding age and form pairs. We’re hoping that these new young pairs will not only help offset losses of old pairs, but also significantly increase the pool of productive pairs in the wild.”

The number of adult kaki in the wild stands at 39, and just 14 of those are females. Kaki were once widespread throughout most of New Zealand, but the spread of introduced predators and habitat modification resulted in a widespread and sustained decline. Now kaki are essentially restricted to the Mackenzie Basin and are classified as a Category A endangered species, the highest priority for conservation. They are the subject of a DOC recovery programme based in Twizel, which aims to increase the number of breeding kaki to 250 by 2011. Egg and chick targets have been met so far and the programme is on-track to achieve this goal.

During the 2001/2002 kaki breeding season, 84 kaki chicks were raised at DOC’s captive breeding centre in Twizel. 52 of these were from eggs collected from wild kaki pairs, and of these, 32 were from wild pairs that were originally raised in captivity.

Ends

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