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Kiwi recovery programmes are proving their worth even though the national population of the threatened bird continues to decline, Conservation Department science officer Rogan Colbourne says.

Mr Colbourne has been part of the BNZ Operation Nest Egg scheme. The Hawke’s Bay group released its 100th young North Island brown kiwi into the Kaweka Ranges on Thursday.

Nationally the kiwi population is thought to be falling by about 6 per cent a year, but Mr Colbourne said local programmes were making a difference, in some cases having increased the local population.

“At Okarito [on the West Coast] they have increased the population from 150 to more than 300,” he said.

In Hawke’s Bay, with a kiwi population of fewer than 1000, the addition of 100 young birds since 2003 was significant. Kiwi lived on average to 40 – and even to 60 – if there were no predators.

In these programmes, eggs are taken from the wild and incubated, then the hatchlings are kept in a predator-proof environment till considered big enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

“There is a 90 per cent hatch rate with these eggs, compared with only 50 per cent in the wild, for various reasons,” Mr Colbourne said.

“Possums can eat the eggs, the adults can damage them accidentally, and there can be bacteria after rainfall.

“Once hatched [in captivity] about 80 per cent reach the sub-adult stage and once they are released about two-thirds survive in the wild, though that varies from area to area.”

Of kiwi hatched in the wild, only about 5 per cent survived to become adults, as predators such as stoats, ferrets and feral cats ate the young birds. Ferrets and dogs could kill adults, and dogs were a particular worry in Northland.

About 15 recovery groups were operating in the North Island, with assistance from DOC and other organisations, Mr Colbourne said.

The Hawke’s Bay group is led by the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust.

Spokesman Alastair Bramley said the survival rate for the kiwi released in Hawke’s Bay was about two-thirds overall, but it had been up at 90 per cent till an outbreak of ferret attacks in 2008.

“We haven’t lost any since then,” he said.

Dogs were not such a big problem in Hawke’s Bay because hunters there had to put their dogs through kiwi aversion training before they could register them, Mr Bramley said.

The 100th kiwi has been named Parauri and was released in the Kawekas after a ceremony at the Pan Pac Kiwi Creche, inland from Tutira.

Original story

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nature-topper

NZ Nature on screen

To celebrate NZ’s unique natural taonga, Peter Hayden has curated a highlights collection from three decades of NHNZ productions. Aotearoa’s landforms and its magnificent menagerie of natural oddities – birds, insects, trees like nowhere else on the planet – are showcased in 15 award-winning titles. From Discovery Channel and David Bellamy, to Wild South and Our World classics.

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http://www.nzonscreen.com/collection/nature

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Media release from Mt John Observatory, Lake Tekapo
28 September 2009

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An astrophotographer has discovered a kiwi in outer space from New Zealand’s internationally renowned Mt John Observatory.

It may be 26,000 light years away but a high powered astro-photograph has picked up the distinct image of New Zealand’s national icon in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The incredible image of the flightless bird was captured by experienced photographer Fraser Gunn. Mr Gunn, who has recently begun astrophotography with Earth and Sky Stargazing Tours at Lake Tekapo’s Mt John Observatory, is delighted with the discovery.

“When looking at the area with the naked eye it’s difficult to locate the kiwi but my camera allows greater light and colour into the image giving it more definition.

“We only started the astrophotography tour six weeks ago to complement our stargazing tours and the response so far has been outstanding. Basically, I provide instruction to anyone with a SLR-type camera so they obtain their own starlight pictures,” he says.

Graeme Murray, director of Earth and Sky Tours, says Fraser has become a leader in New Zealand astrophotography and is fast gaining international acclaim.

Full media realease on Scoop: Kiwi discovered in outer space

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Rare kiwi thriving on Tiritiri Matangi: Media releases

Little spotted kiwi have more than doubled in number on their Hauraki Gulf island home in the last five years, according to the results of a recent Department of Conservation survey.

The population of kiwi on Tiritiri Matangi has grown to more than 60 (estimated at 60-80 birds) from about 30 birds in 2002.

DOC scientist Dr Hugh Robertson, who led the survey, said the population was growing strongly, and was as good as could be expected.

“They seem to grow faster on Tiritiri than on other islands due to the rich soils and lack of rats.”

Simon Fordham, chairman of the community group Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi and part of the survey team, said how valuable the experience had been.

“Working with such a unique bird was a real treat and a great opportunity to help with its recovery.” full media release

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