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Takahē pair released at Rotoroa Island

Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is location to some of the country’s most important matchmaking this summer.

The island is just an hour’s ferry ride from Auckland – and the predator free wildlife sanctuary has been chosen as a new home for a young takahē couple, in the hope they will find love, mate and produce some much-needed offspring. The micro-managed romance is part of an operation to save the endangered takahē from extinction.

The couple – Fyffe, the female, and Mulgrew, the male, are just over a year old. They were transported from Fiordland and released onto the island yesterday, settling into a temporary enclosure on some of New Zealand’s most premier real estate.

“Rotoroa Island is really privileged to be part of the Department of Conservation’s Takahē Recovery Programme ,” says Rotoroa Island Ecologist Jo Ritchie. “ We are so excited to welcome the new young pair and to be part of a bigger vision to save this unique endangered species. We will be doing everything we can to make them feel at home, and with a bit of good luck and good management they could start a family here. ”

The new couple brings the total of takahē on the island to 8. In 2015, a pair Teichelman and Silberhorn were welcomed to the island and they have proven to be great parents - producing three chicks. The most recent is only two weeks old.

As the Rotoroa Island takahē are part of a meta population their first chick Kaiako was sent to the Murchison Mountains to be paired for breeding, and the second chick Aupiki still lives with mum and dad in the Gulf. It’s hoping another two takahē on the island, Tupuarangi and Kuini will also find romance over the summer.

“ It’s really important for the genetic diversity of this species that we move the takahē around the country,” says Jo. “Rotoroa Island operates like a creche for these young birds – we can provide a safe nurturing predator free environment for the chicks while they are young – but when they get to a certain age they need to leave home to return to their natural environment and find a mate in a bigger gene pool. “

The takahē was thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains 70 years ago in 1948. There is a takahe count every year on November 1st – this year the population was 376.

Rotoroa Island is one of few New Zealand sites where the public can see a takahē.
The island is open to the public, accessible by ferry with Fullers360 Experiences and Cruises.


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