Archives For endangered species

New Zealand’s wildlife is in crisis with more than 4,000 of our species threatened or at risk. These species include those that you may be familiar with, like the Māui dolphin and Kakapo, and those that are lesser well known including fungi, snails, insects, lizards and fish. All these species are part of what makes New Zealand unique.

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By DOC’s Kiersten McKinley, based in South Canterbury

Fingers went numb and noses turned bright red as DOC staff caught kakī/black stilts this morning. It was the first fine day after a southerly blast and the birds were off on an adventure!

Nine staff were needed to catch 43 sub-adult kakī from the Captive Breeding Centre aviaries located in Twizel. The birds were being released today into the Tasman Riverbed near Lake Pukaki – but first they had to be caught!

A DOC ranger removes a kakī caught in a net.

A DOC ranger carefully extracts one of the sub-adult kaki from a net

Armed with large soft nets and a slow, purposeful stride each ranger waited patiently for a young bird to rest on the aviary floor. It’s unhurried and cautious work – one fast or sudden move and these fragile birds could end up with a serious injury. Some of the birds managed to get their bills poked through the soft capture nets so another ranger was flagged to assist in the delicate extraction operation. The long, slender bill of a kakī actually has tiny, fine serrations on it which makes it fabulous for getting caught in nets!

Two kakī are held before being transported and released.

Smiles all round – these kaki look to be in good hands!

Once caught each bird underwent a thorough health check and was carefully weighed. A sub-adult bird is nine months of age and the majority of birds weighed around 200 grams – less than half a tub of margarine! What they lack in weight though they more than make up for in spirit. These are feisty birds and they were certainly ready to spread their wings!

DOC Ranger Liz Brown moving a kakī.

DOC Aviaculturist Liz Brown spends a lot of time looking after the kakī

All the kakī were placed into sturdy plywood boxes and then transported to the release site where they were set free by local school children and interested members of the public.

School students releasing kakī into the wild.

The kakī are released into the wild.


Take part in a kakī release:

Two kakī releases are scheduled every year around August or September. If you would like to attend the next one email DOC Ranger Cody Thyne. It’s a wonderful experience and a chance to see these rare birds up close.

Meet whabulous Mother Duck Whiona, based in the fast flowing water ways of Te Urewera.

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Quammen and Te Hoiere, may be a couple of ‘dud’ takahē when it comes to breeding, but at Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin, they are being hailed as ambassadors for conservation.

Meet Quammen and Te Hoiere. Photo: Paul Nevin.

Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue logo

Their arrival is being celebrated as a great example of what can be achieved by partnerships like the one between the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, DOC, local iwi, and Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue.

The two takahē travelled by boat, car and plane to Dunedin from Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds last Tuesday. Under the watchful eye of media and about 25 invited guests, the birds were released into the Ecosanctuary—a project of the Otago Natural History Trust. Ecosanctuary operations manager Chris Baillie said it had taken a long time and much work to get the birds to the Ecosanctuary, and to see them arrive was like a “dream come true.”

With Mitre 10 (who sponsor the takahē recovery programme) and DOC working together to renew and refresh Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue, national chairman and Mitre 10 MEGA Dunedin owner Martin Dippie was keen for his store to get involved with Orokonui Ecosanctuary by supporting it as a new home for takahē.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary map

His store provided materials for a new enclosure, which Mitre 10 staff enthusiastically spent a day helping the Ecosanctuary to build.

“The event at Orokonui went really well with a number of groups working together to give the birds a warm welcome to their new home. It was great to work closely with DOC, Orokonui, and local iwi, further developing our relationships,” said Mr Dippie.”

“At Mitre 10 we’re eager to continue to develop our partnership at a more local level with DOC, and in Dunedin we will further build our relationship with Orokonui to help support Te Hoiere and Quammen in their new home.”

Takahē ranger Martin Genet looks on as Mitre 10’s Martin Dippie and iwi representative Hoata Holmes release the takahē into Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Mr Dippie was on hand to release Quammen into the new enclosure, while Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki iwi representative Hoata Holmes released Te Hoiere. Mitre 10 staff also joined a public event to celebrate the arrival of the takahē into Dunedin on Sunday, providing a marquee and BBQ for fundraising.

Te Anau Area Manager Reg Kemper said the transfer of takahē to Orokonui was a credit to the takahē team, whose focus was on building the national takahē population, creating new sites for takahē, and working in partnership with Mitre 10 to increase the support for takahē conservation.

“This transfer ticks all the boxes,” said Reg. “The team have managed to remove a couple of non-breeding birds from Maud Island, freeing up space for breeding birds. By providing the  Ecosanctuary with the takahē, they have created a golden opportunity for more New Zealanders to get up close and appreciate these unique birds; they’re supporting our partners, fostering relationships between our partners and at the end of the day its all increasing support for conservation.”

Learn more

About takahe on the DOC website

Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue partnership on the DOC website

Orokonui Ecosanctuary website