Rare flightless birds have flown the length of the country to a new safe haven on an island in Auckland.
Nine takahe made the trip from Fiordland to Motutapu Island, a pest-free island around half an hour’s ferry ride from Auckland.
The Department of Conservation (DOC), Mitre 10 and Air New Zealand joined forces to see them dropped off at their new spot.
The birds were reared near Te Anau. Motutapu was chosen as a safe site because islands which are already homes to the takahe, such as Kapiti, Mana, Maud, and Tiritiri Matangi, are running out of room.
On their new turf, there is enough space for up to 20 breeding pairs – which will eventually make it the largest takahe population outside Fiordland.
DOC’s takahe recovery programme manager, Phil Tisch, said the programme was “crucial” in saving the bird from extinction.
“It’s enabling us to take another big step forward in building a safe future for takahe by building a new population on Motutapu,” he said.
“This is the largest transportation of takahe we've ever done outside Fiordland. There are only 260 takahe in the world. To move nine of these rare birds virtually the length of the country in one day is a major undertaking.”
They were released into native forest planted by volunteers from the Motutapu Restoration Trust.
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