Birds introduced to Rotoroa Island

06:16, May 13 2014
whitehead bird
PREPARATION: A whitehead bird is tagged on Little Barrier Island ahead of its release to Rotoroa Island

Eighty native birds are being moved to Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf today - the first wildlife species to be introduced to the new wildlife reserve.

The bird translocations follow extensive planting, monitoring and pest eradication on Rotoroa, and mark the start of an ambitious 25-year plan by Auckland Zoo and the Rotoroa Island Trust.

Forty tieke (saddleback) and 40 popokotea (whitehead) are being flown from Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier) to their new home.

"It's the first step in introducing a range of native species to the island and we hope it will be the beginning of a very special conservation experience for those who come to visit," Rotoroa Island Trust chairman Barrie Brown said.

Twenty new species will be introduced to the island by 2018 including wildlife that wouldn't have been found on Rotoroa Island before.

Kiwi, Duvaucel's gecko and moko skink are planned for release later this year.

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Auckland Zoo director, Jonathan Wilcken, said:"Together with our RIT partners, we're taking a very new approach to creating a wildlife reserve.

"We're aiming to help secure New Zealand's unique biodiversity in a way that's a deliberate departure from what's been done before."

The project hopes to create a diverse new ecosystem that allows New Zealand to showcase the interventionist approach to conserving wildlife.

"By demonstrating how intensive management of wildlife can help with their conservation, we will provide the community - from school students to island visitors - opportunities to play an active role in the ongoing health and management of the island," Wilcken said.

"We hope to help foster a whole new generation of conservationists."

The tieke and popokotea are being released into the northeast of the island where there is good established forest habitat.

More than 500 nest and roost boxes for the tieke have been built by Long Bay College students to provide the birds with plenty of roosting and nesting site choices and to cater for future breeding.

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