DOC Images: New Kiwi Eggs
DOC rangers Karen Mayhew (left) and Chris Rickard check a juvenile rowi in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary.
03 October 2002
New Kiwi Eggs
Members of the Department of Conservation’s Kiwi Recovery team at Franz Josef are wearing a smile as Spring gets off to a roaring start in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary.
Franz Josef Area manager Jo Macpherson said 28 new eggs have so far been located this breeding season offering considerable hope for the future of endangered Rowi (Okarito Brown Kiwi).
Ms Macpherson said two chicks have already hatched and they will remain with their parents thanks to a 10,000ha stoat control program that commenced in April 2001.
Ms Macpherson said predator control is the basis of the Department’s new approach to the recovery of this species. The aim is to leave chicks to develop bonds with their parents in their natural forest habitat.
Previously, the only way to prevent stoats from eating vulnerable chicks was to temporarily remove chicks to a predator free island for a year until they reached a minimum fighting weight of 1kg.
Ms Macpherson said the predator control programme has already ensured the survival of six monitored chicks born last year in the forest. Five of these are now big and tough enough to be considered ‘stoat-proof’.
“We are very happy, this indicates a 30% chick survival rate which surpasses the 20% level considered necessary for the rowi population to grow,” she said.
Fourteen Rowi juveniles, raised on predator-free Motuara Island, were released into Okarito Forest in January 2002. Eleven are still strong and healthy, and learning the tricks of being wild kiwi. A few of the more social birds have been found hanging out with older wild birds, perhaps practicing a bit of romance. Two recorded deaths were most likely caused by territorial disputes with wild pairs. The third has eluded monitoring due to a failed radio transmitter.
Ms Macpherson said once the current breeding season has finished DOC staff will be completing a five-yearly kiwi survey, a nationwide mission for all Kiwi Sanctuaries, designed to pick up any long term population trends.
Ms Macpherson said an additional reason to smile these days is the three eggs currently being incubated by birds that were rescued under the ‘Operation Nest Egg’ (ONE) programme, an important component of the Bank of New Zealand-sponsored Kiwi Recovery Programme.
She said more ONE birds are expected to become involved in breeding as the season progresses.
Further information about the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Programme, is available at www.kiwirecovery.org.nz.