Thirty threatened Kakaruai birds have been successfully transferred to New Zealand’s newest sanctuary.
Secretary Island, a 8,000 hectare island at the western end of Doubtful Sound in the Fiordland National Park, will be the new home to the Kaharuai, or South Island Robin.
“It’s fantastic, it’s been a big achievement getting to this point,” says Murray Willians from the Department of Conservation.
They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but for DOC it’s the birds in the bush that are important.
“There’s no rodents or possums here, and essentially no stoats and very few deer now too, so it’s essentially clear of introduced animals that cause harm to NZ’s native biodiversity,” says Willians.
The birds were transferred from Breaksea Island following a three year project to rid the island of predators.
Breaksea was the forerunner of the country’s island restoration programme and boasts a population of thousands of Kakaruai, and other threatened species.
Offshore islands play a key role in the battle against introduced pests. Birds like the Saddleback would have been extinct without them.
There used to be thousands of South Island Robins on Secretary Island before Stoats were introduced about a hundred years ago. Now there are none, and DOC is hoping this population of birds brought here, will flourish.
“Seeing and hearing that birdsong and thinking of what it used to be like in the South Island beech forests is quite incredible and quite different to what we see now on the mainland anywhere really,” says Willans.
“These conservation programmes are very important. It’s very important we retain the character of the area,” says John Davies from the Fiordland Conservation Trust.
The programmes will ensure the birds keep singing for generations to come.