This year, the Ruahine Whio Protection Trust with the support of the Aorangi Awarua Trust secured a DOC Community Fund grant to fund kiwi surveys. Kiwi were known to be present in the Ruahine Corner and Ikawatea Forks area but had not been surveyed outside that area for a very long time.
With a bit of technical advice from Massey University’s Isabel Castro and Stephen Marsland, volunteers put out automated recording devices to record kiwi calls. Data is still being analysed, but results so far have been promising!
The most exciting part is that kiwi were heard on several recorders between Iron Bark Hut and Puketaramea, and back towards the Unknown Stream. Kiwi haven’t been reported here for many years! Heartening news for conservationists everywhere.
There were also kiwi heard on most of the recorders placed along the Ikawatea Ridge. Some of this was surveyed about 5 years ago; but it is reassuring to find birds still there. Even better, subadult kiwi were identified, which means some kiwi have bred successfully in the last few years.
All of the kiwi found so far are within the Battle for our Birds Northern Ruahine treatment area – so they’ll be benefiting from the protection provided by the recent pest control operation.
This is very important, as in non-managed areas only 5% of kiwi survive to adulthood. Kiwi are long lived (they live about 40+ years) so they can be present for many years but with low breeding success. We’re anticipating good breeding results in the BFOB treatment area.
So why are the Ruahine Whio Protectors looking for kiwi anyway?
The stoat trapping that the Ruahine Whio Protectors carry out, is primarily for the benefit of whio and targeted towards catchments where whio are known. The Ruahine whio population is particularly special to locals, as it represents the southern-most population remaining in the North Island.
But stoat control also benefits kiwi and the Ruahine Whio protectors were keen to find out where the kiwi are and if they are within the existing trapped areas.
Since the kiwi survey has already revealed kiwi to be present outside the area currently trapped; the Ruahine Whio Protection Trust has applied for funding to extend the traps lines here.
The Ruahine kiwi survey isn’t finished yet, so we’ll look forward to more exciting news as their work progresses over the next 12 months.