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First Takahē Egg at Pukaha for Over 20 Years

First Takahē Egg at Pukaha for Over 20 Years

The rangers at Pukaha Mount Bruce, National Wildlife Centre were delighted this week to discover that the resident takahē couple, Natural and Fomi are sitting on an egg. The egg was discovered on Saturday by Pukaha ranger, Tara Swan. The discovery of the egg marks the first time a takahē egg has been laid at the centre for over 20 years. It is particularly special because Pukaha Mount Bruce’s very first conservation breeding programme was with the takahē and dates back to the late 1960’s.

The female Takahe, Fomi (which stands for Friends of Mana Island) arrived at Pukaha Mount Bruce in June of this year. Fomi had resided on Mana Island off the Kapiti Coast since she was hatched there 13 years ago. Fomi came to Pukaha Mount Bruce to be introduced to Natural, the male takahē that resides at Pukaha.

Natural was living alone after the recent passing of his companion, Bud who had passed away from natural causes at Pukaha Mount Bruce in April.

Takahe prefer to live in pairs or family groups so after Bud passed away Fomi was sent to live with Natural at Pukaha Mount Bruce. Fomi, the female takahē had not bred on Mana Island for the last three years so it was assumed her prime breeding days were finished. Pukaha’s resident male is aged 18 years old so it was also assumed that he is no longer an active breeding takahē.

All these factors combined mean that there is a high chance that this egg is infertile but the team at Pukaha are still hopeful and will be keeping a close eye on developments. The two birds hit it off from the moment they were introduced and Pukaha rangers have witnessed the pair breeding. If the egg is fertile, in just 30 days time Fomi and Natural will be proud parents to the first takahē chick hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce for two decades.

This exciting discovery at Pukaha Mt Bruce coincides with the release last week of the official yearly takahē population count listed as 347 birds, with over 100 breeding pairs.

DOC's Senior Takahē Ranger Glen Greaves says the Takahē Recovery Programme is thrilled with the results.

"This is the highest annual growth rate recorded in the population since management began almost 70 years ago.

Along with the success of the growing population, the programme has passed the 100-breeding pair milestone for the first time on record. This is more than double the number of breeding pair, 10 years ago.

As the population grows there is more certainty for the future of the takahē. The species has recently moved two steps away from extinction according to the New Zealand Threat Classification System. The recovery programme is confident the number of takahē will increase by at least 10 percent after this summer's breeding season.

With the population increasing, new sanctuary sites to house the takahē have doubled in the past 10 years. This provides an important safeguard for the species should disaster strike the only wild population.

Todd Jenkinson, Conservation manager at Pukaha Mount Bruce, says “Pukaha would be thrilled to be part of that 10% increase in takahē. If the egg is indeed fertile and a chick is successfully hatched at Pukaha, the takahē programme at the centre would have gone full circle - the early days of the takahē recovery programme has roots at Pukaha Mount Bruce.”


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