Mt Bruce kaka population soars

Mountain home to over 160 kaka

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 02/01/2013
Kaka
DAVID UNWIN/ Fairfax NZ
FLOURISHING: The kaka population on Mt Bruce is steadily rising.

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From humble beginnings, efforts to restore the North Island kaka population at Pukaha Mt Bruce are now soaring.

Nine of the species were released to the wilderness reserve in the southern Tararua in 1996. The mountain is now home to more than 160 kaka.

While the birds at Mt Bruce now were not all descended from those nine they had come to the mountain because of the pest control carried out there.

"Kaka weren't here without it," Mt Bruce manager Kathy Houkamau said.

A network of traps and bait stations across the mountain targets rats, ferrets, stoats, weasels and cats.

"Pest control is not easy; it's kind of two steps forward and one step back. You have your successes and you have your losses, that's all part of the process."

Mt Bruce holds a kaka feeding at 3pm each day. The forest has abundant food supply for Mt Bruce's kaka population, but the daily feeding lets visitors see the birds up close.

Among those who have taken that opportunity recently was Aucklander Giles Bryant.

Mr Bryant first learned about kaka at Zealandia in Wellington, where about 300 of the birds live.

He stopped at Mt Bruce during a recent holiday to see the kaka there.

"It's an incredible opportunity to see something up close that is so rare."

Mrs Houkamau said with work at Mt Bruce funded primarily from public donations it was evident New Zealanders cared about their native species. "What that says to me is the community really value these species; kiwi in particular they value . . . and they want to see them surviving on the mainland."

Considered a vulnerable species, kaka are parrots closely related to the kea.

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- Manawatu Standard

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