Kiwi come south to Fiordland

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Little spotted kiwi.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Little spotted kiwi.

Dusky Sound in Fiordland will become home to a new little spotted kiwi population and help strengthen the survival chances of the rare and endangered species.

Up to 45 little spotted kiwi will be transferred from Kapiti Island, off the west coast of the lower North Island, to Anchor Island in Dusky Sound between March next year and 2016.

The joint project between the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation is being funded by the Fiordland Lobster Company.

Originally from the South Island, the little spotted kiwi is the only kiwi species to become extinct on the mainland.

DOC biodiversity ranger Hannah Edmonds said although the overall little spotted kiwi population had grown to around 1500 in New Zealand, more help was needed to ensure its long-term survival.

The little spotted kiwi was the most vulnerable native bird to introduced predators.

"Now stoat-free, forest-clad Anchor is an island with an ecosystem becoming as healthy as it has been in decades," she said.

The kiwi would be transferred from Kapiti Island to Anchor, with up to 20 birds being transferred at any one time.

The best time to undertake translocations is from March-June, just before the breeding season.

On Kapiti Island, the kiwi will be fitted with radio transmitters several months in advance and then tracked on transfer day, ensuring as smooth a transfer as possible, she said.

Three to four separate transfers may be required over a number of years with the first group being closely monitored for health and weight gain to ensure the project was going according to plan.

Fiordland Conservation Trust manager Rachel Cockburn said the translocation project was one the trust was honoured to be part of.

Knowing the trust, with the support of DOC and particularly the Fiordland Lobster Company, was helping protect a truly special species was "pretty neat", she said.

Anchor Island was a special place and along with other predator-free islands in Fiordland helped safeguard endangered species such as the little spotted kiwi.

It was also fantastic to have the Fiordland Lobster Company on board.

"The shareholders of the lobster company were still mainly fishermen who lived and worked in the Fiordland area and Te Anau and really put their money where their mouth was," Ms Cockburn said.

She expected the Fiordland Lobster Company's donation would be more than $20,000.

Fiordland Lobster Company chief executive Alan Buckner said helping to establish another offshore island population in Fiordland ticked all the boxes for the company's conservation projects.

The company had previously worked with kiwi in Fiordland, having sponsored the cost of translocating Haast Kiwi to Coal Island in 2009.

The Southland Times