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Kiwi deaths devastate Pukaha team

Kiwi deaths devastate Pukaha team

With sadness we report four deaths of our kiwi.  Three of the deaths are kiwi trans-located here from Little Barrier Island in May. 

As members and supporters of Pukaha, we wanted you to be the first to know. 

All four birds were found to have injuries consistent with a mustelid attack so extra traps targeting ferrets were deployed.  The additional trapping effort paid off when a large male ferret was caught in the vicinity.

Our Chairman, Bob Francis, speaking on behalf of the Board comments that while the deaths were sad they highlighted the challenges of returning kiwi to the wild and the importance of our ongoing pest control programme.

He said, “Predators are common in all forest areas and while we will have losses, we will continue to make significant gains as well. That’s why it’s important to build a population large enough to absorb occasional losses.”

Department of Conservation Wairarapa Area Manager, Chris Lester, concurs and adds that the Department continues to have confidence in its pest control programme.

As you know, the 30 trans-located kiwi have been closely monitored since their release.  All signs indicated they have settled in well, establishing territories and several appear to have found mates, in readiness for the breeding season.

DOC Programme Manager Bruce Vander Lee said the 30 trans-located kiwi were all fitted with transmitters and have been closely monitored since their release. 

Bruce’s team were in the midst of the first health check which was showing excellent results, healthy weight gains and showing to be extremely good condition.

The team at Pukaha continue their commitment to the long-term plan to build a population that will be capable of withstanding losses from time to time.  We appreciate your continued support.

Welcome to new members and subscribers

On a more cheerful note.   We are delighted to report the recent membership drive has been very successful and so we welcome all our new Pukaha Mount Bruce members.

We have also added Pukaha Life Members and the very active members of the National Wildlife Centre Trust.  Welcome.

If you think others would wish to join as a member or simply receive the newsletter, please pass this newsletter on so they can click through and sign up.

Rod Morris presents the Sir Edmund Hillary Memorial Lecture
Given the nature of our opening article, Rod Morris’ recent presentation of the sobering view of the destruction of mammalian predators on our wildlife, is even more poignant.

Hosted by the National Wildlife Centre Trust, Rod, a well known wildlife photographer and documentary maker visited Pukaha and addressed a full house.  

His passionate address was all about ‘his playground’ – Fiordland- and the devastation due to mammalian pests.  Like many other parts of New Zealand, originally Fiordland was teaming with native birds and animals.  Most native birds now seem to be retreating to Northern Fiordland - the Te Anau and Milford areas.   Among other mammalian pests, mice seem to be causing untold destruction, not only to birds but to the fragile animals such as the alpine gecko.

He entertained us for over two hours with witty anecdotes of his many years of filming, including the famous series of The Secret Life of Birds with David Attenborough and interviews with luminaries such as Geoffrey Orbell (Takahe) and Don Merton (Kakapo).

Rod sees the future of our native species success lying in the hands of human intervention.  He was delighted to be back at Pukaha - where he started his Ranger training in the 1970s - and to hear of the recent Flight of Kiwi campaign. 

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