Say hello to one-day-old ‘Richter’ who hatched in Willowbank Wildlife reserve just hours into Conservation Week in the midst of Christchurch’s earthquakes.
This is the first kiwi hatch of the 2010 season at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. It gives another boost to the critically endangered rowi kiwi population who are currently going from strength to strength thanks to DOC’s rowi project using BNZ Operation Nest Egg.
As Christchurch’s power went down across the city, just 30 minutes after the 7.1 earthquake hit the South Island, Corry-Ann Langford, Manger of Willowbank’s hatching facilities, rushed into work to check on the eggs. She was thrilled to find that, amazingly, none of the eggs had suffered any damage.
Staff at Willowbank nick-named the chick Richter. After a further delivery of eggs on Friday, they are now caring for 21 kiwi eggs from the two most endangered kiwi – rowi and Haast tokoeka – both found on New Zealand’s West Coast.
BNZ Operation Nest Egg involves removing kiwi eggs and chicks, hatching and rearing them in safe locations and returning them to the wild once they are large enough to defend themselves (around 1 kg) from introduced predators.
Like all rowi chicks born at Willowbank, Richter will be transferred to the safe crèche island of Motuara in the Marlborough Sounds where he will grow up without the threat of stoats. He’ll return home to Okarito Kiwi Zone – just north-west of Franz Josef, on the West Coast – in about a year’s time.