By Jayne Ramage, (Communication Advisor) and Sandra Groves,
There are lots of ways to know you’ve made a positive impact on New Zealand conservation. One sure sign is by becoming the namesake of one of our precious national birds.
Jamie Quirk, DOC Biodiversity Ranger is one such lucky Kiwi.
‘Quirky’ the kiwi weighed only 470 grams when transferred to the Motu kiwi crèche.
It’s not yet known if Quirky is a boy or a girl, but like a new parent, Jamie brushes off the question and says he’s thrilled regardless.
“It’s a real honour. I was astounded and very touched by this gesture. It’s a real motivator to continue doing what we’re doing to make New Zealand safe for all Quirky’s kin.”
Quirky will stay at the Motu kiwi crèche until he or she weighs around 1100 grams, then will be released into the wild at Whinray Scenic Reserve.
Jamie says that research has found that kiwi hatched in the wild have only a 5% survival rate.
“Kiwi eggs are particularly vulnerable to stoats. Eggs and chicks in the wild have a much lower survival rate than those in protected areas.”
Ridding New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by 2050 is a New Zealand-wide goal. It’s an ambitious goal, but since rats, stoats and possums kill millions of native birds every year and have pushed species to the brink of extinction, it’s a necessary one.
Quirky is a North Island brown kiwi. North Island brown kiwi have disappeared from many lowland sites in their areas, but management of predators through Battle for Our Birds operations and trapping has slowed or reversed the declines in many areas.
Jamie says “the Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust do a tremendous amount of work protecting an iconic kiwi species in Whinray Scenic Reserve.”
North Island brown kiwi are part of Operation Nest Egg, which is a successful programme which promotes removing eggs from the wild to improve their chances of survival and increase breeding.
Operation Nest Egg is partially funded by Kiwis for kiwi, combines the efforts of the Department of Conservation, community kiwi conservation groups, iwi, researchers and captive rearing facilities.
Operation Nest Egg has been very successful over the past few years, with chick survival rates reaching over 99%. This means it will play an important part in meeting our target of increasing kiwi populations by 2% per year.
The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust began monitoring kiwi in the reserve in 1999, and has been working with DOC to restore and protect kiwi through trapping and the Motu breeding programme.
Jamie’s family have a long history at Motu dating back to the early 1900’s when his Great Grand-father Thomas Quirk opened a sawmill there. His grandfather James Quirk continued with the saw-milling and farming. His father Tony farmed until the late 1950s.
In 1979, Jamie was involved in the re-opening of the Whinray track and ongoing involvement that included the construction of the Whinray Motu falls suspension bridge, along with kiwi and weka surveys at Whinray.
Jamie notes the irony of having two generations of his family contribute to cutting down forests for timber where kiwi live. The hope is what The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust, DOC and Kiwis for kiwi are achieving today is the right thing for this and future generations.
Jamie says, “The aim of the conservation work we’re doing is to restore kiwi populations so that the next generation—and the ones after that—can continue to appreciate them.”
Kia ora Jamie.