Archives For translocations

18 takahē are now roaming the tussock grasslands of Gouland Downs on the Heaphy Track. Takahē Advocacy Ranger Julie takes us behind the scenes of the recent takahē release in Kahurangi National Park.

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Kiwi releases attract plenty of media attention, often triggering individuals and groups to consider establishing kiwi in their patch.

Now, new guidelines have been created to help people understand the process and requirements.

DOC Ranger, Liz Maire, explains…

Up close—the public get their first experience of kiwi.

Up close—the public get their first experience of kiwi

Kiwi releases are good news stories and generate positive and widespread coverage. This media attention often results in a flurry of public enquiries about how individuals or groups can establish kiwi in their local reserve or the bush block at the back of the farm.

Kiwi releases are good news stories and generate positive and widespread coverage

Kiwi releases generate positive and widespread coverage

 DOC Biodiversity Services Ranger, Pete Graham showing some of the children the kiwi pre release into a burrow.

DOC Biodiversity Services Ranger, Pete Graham showing some of the children the kiwi pre release into a burrow.

The Northland Kiwi Forum Working Group and Kiwis for kiwi identified that, although there are many groups and individuals that aspire to have kiwi in their patch, there was no single resource that outlined the process and considerations for them.

Many individuals described obtaining this information as daunting and confusing.

A guide to establishing new kiwi populations (PDF, 2091K) was developed to fill this gap and provide a first check of the journey they might be embarking upon.

The guide addresses the key considerations of communication, planning and commitment. These are then expanded upon to address:

– Habitat and threat management requirements;

– Identifying kiwi that might be used to establish a new population;

– Key relationships, support and approvals required; and

– Considerations for ongoing management once established.

The Northland Kiwi Forum Working Group in conjunction with Kiwis for kiwi drew upon the experiences and frustrations of applicants and approvers of past translocations in developing the guidelines.

Although drafted with an emphasis on establishing and protecting populations of Northland brown kiwi, the document should also be useful for other kiwi taxa or even other species.

The Northland Kiwi Forum

The Northland Kiwi Forum is a collaboration of agencies, individuals, iwi, community groups, farmers, foresters, and central and local government staff who are actively involved in managing the Northland taxon of Northland brown kiwi on public and private land.

Kiwis for kiwi

Kiwis for kiwi is a non profit organisation that supports the work of more than 80 community groups around the country, providing funding for vital kiwi conservation, breeding and hatching programmes. 

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Colin Miskelly (a former DOC staff member) recently reviewed the history of bird translocations in New Zealand.

Colin co-authored a paper with former DOC scientist Ralph Powlesland, which will be published in the journal Notornis. Here, Colin provides a potted history of bird translocations before and after the formation of DOC.

Richard Henry outside his boatshed, Pigeon Island, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, March 1900

“New Zealand conservation managers have rightly gained world renown for preventing the extinction of many critically endangered birds. One of the main tools in the species conservation toolkit has been translocation—particularly to islands with few or no introduced predators.

“The history of New Zealand bird translocations dates back 150 years to Sir George Grey’s releases of kiwi and weka on Kawau Island,” says Colin. 

“However, the first concerted efforts were by Richard Henry on Resolution Island when he attempted to rescue Fiordland kākāpō and kiwi from invasive stoats in 1895–1903.

“Few bird translocations were attempted (or successful) for the next 60 years, until a young Wildlife Service officer began trials with North Island saddlebacks early in 1964.

North Island saddleback/tīeke juvenile

“Later that same year, the techniques and expertise that Don Merton and colleagues had developed on Taranga/Hen Island were used in a desperate effort to rescue South Island saddlebacks from extinction.

“The invasion of the South Cape islands (Taukihepa, Rerewhakaupoko and Pukeweka) by ship rats in 1964 was a turning point in New Zealand conservation. The saddlebacks were rescued, but the extinction of South Island snipe and bush wren were pivotal in the Wildlife Service taking a more proactive approach to species conservation,” says Colin.

“During the next 23 years (through to the formation of DOC in 1987), at least 125 bird translocations were undertaken, with 18 species moved successfully. High profile successes included translocation of the entire world population of black robins (7 birds!) from Little Mangere Island to neighbouring Mangere Island (in the Chatham Islands) in 1976–77.

“There has been an explosion in the number and diversity of translocations attempted since DOC’s creation—including over 280 translocations of 49 different bird species. The main driver for this huge increase in translocation effort has been the development of island and mainland pest control techniques, including development of predator-resistant fences.

“Mainland restoration has allowed many more New Zealanders to have a direct involvement with species translocations. Community-based restoration groups have proliferated, and they now generate the bulk of species translocation proposals.

Whio project, Mangatepopo, Tongariro National Park

“Over the first 25 years of DOC, staff have participated in a paradigm shift from them doing the bulk of species conservation work, to the current situation where DOC staff support and encourage community-led initiatives.”

Local Te Anau children Liam Norris and Maki Kameyama help
DOC scientist Graeme Elliott open one of the mohua transfer boxes
in the Eglinton Valley

Do you know of any community-led initiatives is your area? There are hundreds of community conservation projects working in partnership with DOC around the country. Join an existing one in your region or start your own.