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Kiwi's Settling Into New Home

May 20 2004

Nine great spotted kiwi are settling into their new home in the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area at Nelson Lakes.

The first two kiwi from Kahurangi National Park’s Gouland Downs area were released into the recovery area on Saturday 15 May and the last two kiwi were moved there on Wednesday, 19 May. The Department of Conservation’s Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, with the support of Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery, has brought kiwi back to the Lake Rotoiti area after kiwi became extinct there around 80 years ago.

DOC’s St Arnaud biodiversity programme manager Brian Paton said so far the kiwi – five males and four females - were staying close to where they had been let go and that was promising for establishing a great spotted kiwi (roa) population at Rotoiti.

“This is the first time great spotted kiwi have been moved into a new area in recent times so we weren’t sure how they would react and whether they would stay. One possibility was that they would roam some distance away.

“So far they are staying near to where they were let go and that is encouraging but we still need to see what happens in coming weeks. We want them to stay in the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area, which protects native species with pest control, and for them to begin to breed and build their numbers.

“They are fitted with radio transmitters and are being closely monitored – on a daily basis for now – to make sure they are OK and to track their movements.”

Mr Paton urged people to help protect the kiwi by not letting their dogs get into Nelson Lakes National Park.

“Dogs are not allowed in Nelson Lakes National Park and that includes pig hunting dogs. That was the case before the kiwi came and now they are living here it has become even more crucial that dogs not go in the park as dogs are known to kill kiwi. In Te Urewera National Park last year, nine out of sixteen monitored kiwi were killed in 10 months and it is believed all their deaths were due to dogs.

“We urge anyone in the area of Nelson Lakes National Park to keep their dogs under control, preferably on a leash, so there is no chance of them running into the park and putting kiwi at risk.”

One female kiwi is being treated by vets at Massey University for a beak injury that occurred in a transportation box, purpose-built for carrying kiwi, in which she was taken from Gouland Downs to St Arnaud.

“She has lost a bit off the end of her beak but the vets say there is a good chance it can mend. The damaged area should grow back. The beak is keratin and grows in the same way people’s fingernails do. “We are concerned and upset that this happened to her and have made sure she gets veterinary care. We also immediately took steps to prevent this happening to other kiwi. The health and wellbeing of the kiwi has been our paramount concern in moving them and we have had a vet on hand to check their condition and treat them as necessary.”

A team of DOC staff, including specialists in kiwi work, spent a week at Gouland Downs to capture the nocturnal kiwi at night. Once captured, the kiwi were flown by helicopter to St Arnaud during the day for release into the Rotoiti recovery area.

One of the goals of Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery is to increase the number of places in which kiwi live. This is just the second time that kiwi have been put back into an area from which they had disappeared.

The Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust was established in November 2002 by the Bank of New Zealand and the Department of Conservation, building on a 12-year sponsorship relationship. The Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust is responsible for public awareness and education, fundraising, sponsorship and grant allocations for kiwi recovery nationally.


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