Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Kākāpō Relocated To Reduce Monitoring Load

The Department of Conservation is investigating new monitoring solutions for the Waikato kākāpō population after the trial has shown some kākāpō continue to be highly active.

Kākāpō Motupōhue during the July translocation Credit Supplied/Peter Drury

Following a review of bird activity, DOC, Ngāi Tahu and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari made the call to temporarily decrease the population at the Waikato fenced sanctuary from ten to seven birds while they develop a less labour-intensive monitoring solution.

The decision comes after the allure of the fence has proven too strong for some of the famously curious parrots, with three finding a way over it in the past two months. One kākāpō, Motupōhue, who was part of the first cohort transferred in July, found his way out twice in quick succession, suggesting a behavioural component. He was relocated back to a southern predator-free island last week, along with Manawanui and Kanawera, who have not breached the fence but created a high monitoring workload by spending a lot of time near it.

DOC Operations Manager for Kākāpō Deidre Vercoe says departures from the fenced sanctuary were an expected challenge of the trial, and four in six weeks has meant an increase in monitoring was needed at a time where monitoring was expected to be significantly decreasing.

Reducing the population means staff can keep closer tabs on the nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrots while still preserving the integrity of the trial.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“The kākāpō wear transmitters and are regularly monitored by rangers, but there are some limitations with the technology - tracking their exact whereabouts can be very labour intensive and is made more difficult by terrain and weather.”

The manu are otherwise doing well within the sanctuary, Deidre says.

“All kākāpō are in good condition, passing their health checks and exploring their new territory. It’s just some of them are very interested in the fence. It could be an age thing, or a behavioural thing; we just don’t know yet.

“But that is the purpose of a trial – to prepare, watch, learn and adapt as needed and taking risks is part of that.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kākāpō Species Representative Tāne Davis says Ngāi Tahu has worked closely with ngā iwi ki Maungatautari who jointly made the decision to return the three kākāpō to their kāinga (home) in Fiordland.

“Our curious taonga will always test us. We have learnt a lot since the manu were first released on Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari in July and I know they will continue to teach us more as they adapt to life on the mainland. These learnings are crucial if we want kākāpō to thrive within our communities and backyards in the decades to come.”

Using vegetation remains the leading theory for how the kākāpō are departing the sanctuary. Vegetation was cleared before the transfer and is ongoing.

The trial is reinforcing why we should never underestimate a kākāpō, Deidre says.

Kākāpō are flightless, and are excellent climbers that can use their wings to “parachute” from treetops. The average canopy height at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is higher than in the southern islands; taller trees mean greater “parachuting” distances.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari General Manager Helen Somerville says their ranger team have done an outstanding job with both monitoring the birds and vegetation clearing.

“We are learning just how clever these manu are. By now we expected the hands-on monitoring to have begun to reduce, however this hasn’t been possible and the team is traversing our incredible sanctuary every day checking on bird locations, and this method is simply not sustainable.”

Deidre says having kākāpō in a fenced sanctuary has never been done before.

“With the southern predator-free islands reaching capacity, it is vital to investigate alternative habitats ahead of future breeding seasons, so we continue to be committed to this trial.

“One of our ultimate goals is to have large numbers of kākāpō exploring their former range – wild and free, and places like Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari are an important stepping stone for kākāpō in the meantime.”

“As with any trial there is always an element of risk, but to secure their future, we need to push the boundaries. Kākāpō have come back from the very brink of extinction to a population of just under 250 birds, but without new, safe, predator-free habitat, we won’t be able to help them continue to grow.”

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On National Spreading Panic About The Economy


It is a political strategy as old as time. Scare the public with tales of disaster and stampede them into supporting your ideological agenda because they believe There Is No Alternative. Yet, if the NZ economy truly is as “fragile” as PM Christopher Luxon says it is... Then how come New Zealand has enjoyed a double AA+ credit rating from the international rating agencies for so long? If we have truly been in the thrall of incompetent tax, spend and borrow extremists for the past six years, how come our net government debt burden is only in the middling average of OECD countries, and how come our government debt-to-GDP ratio – however you measure it – is less than half the average for the Asia-Pacific region?..
More


 
 


Labour: Grant Robertson To Retire From Parliament
Labour List MP and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson will retire from Parliament next month, and later in the year take up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago... More

Government: Budget Will Be Delivered On 30 May

Plans to deliver tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders, rebuild business confidence, and restore the Crown’s finances to order will be unveiled on 30 May, says Nicola Willis... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.