Campaign brings 100 reports of possible Kōkako encounters
Campaign brings 100 reports of possible encounters with South Island Kōkako
Since the January 2017 launch of the search for the South Island kōkako and the $10,000 reward, the South Island Kōkako Charitable Trust has received over 100 reports of possible encounters with the elusive bird.
To celebrate this milestone, the Trust is keen to share the best of the recent encounters, which range from the top of the South Island to Stewart Island.
Probably the most exciting and accessible area of strong interest is to the South of Reefton on the West Coast in an area known as Merrijigs, and another area, the Granville forest, some 25km further down the Grey Valley, with seven very encouraging reports in the past 12 months.
As an example, here is one report from Merrijigs:
“The bird scrambled onto a branch 2' off the ground using long 8" tail for balance; grey, black hood around eyes, tight feathers, youngish looking bird, fluttered back into scrub and disappeared. Couldn't see wattles.”
Three reports came from Stewart Island over the summer, two of them being particularly encouraging, the first on the North West Circuit where a grey bird with a long tail was seen and heard in February, and another on Rakiura Track where a sound was thought to be that of the kōkako and recorded.
The Trust’s confidence in such reports comes from both decades of experience - Trustee Ron Nilsson worked in most of these areas in the Wildlife Service and other roles and has been compiling the database of reports for many years – as well as the database itself.
A further three reports of encounters have come from close to the Aorere Shelter at the northern end of the Heaphy Track. All three were based on calls rather than seeing a bird, but Mr Nilsson believes it is very likely that the kōkako could still be in that area.
“Our database includes several encounters from this area and other parts of the Heaphy Track, and, with sustained predator control in these areas, I’m reasonably optimistic that our South Island kōkako could still be surviving there.”
The Trust has also received very credible reports from these areas: the Milford Track (up the track from Sandfly Point), the Cobb Valley (Chaffee Hut), the Richmond Ranges (near mid Wairoa Hut), Doubtful River (Lewis Pass area) and most recently, Spur Track in Hanmer Forest Park.
Mr Nilsson is encouraged that encounter reports continue to arrive.
“Many of the reports we are receiving note that they have seen a poster and been prompted to get in touch having seen or heard something completely out of the ordinary as they travel through native forest.
“44 of the now 103 reports since the launch of our public search are current - encounters since the launch in January 2017. The remaining reports are older but many of those are supporting the database of possible encounters that the Trust had already collated.”
However, a photograph remains as elusive as the bird itself. Mr Nilsson added:
“We still need definitive evidence – a photo or video – but we really feel that we are getting closer with the help of so many people who are out walking, tramping or hunting and know what to look and listen for. We are very optimistic that proof will be found soon.”
The Trust’s website, southislandkokako.org, has information about the bird and advice for searchers, so have a look, and add an extra bit of interest to your future tramping or hunting trips.