'Extinct' bird may actually exist

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 12:01 27/11/2013
koka
Fairfax NZ
A stuffed South Island Kokako at the Canterbury Museum

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An extinct South Island bird may actually still exist, a society dedicated to monitoring rare and endangered birds says.

The South Island kokako was declared extinct in 2007, but earlier this month the Ornithological Society decided to change the bird's listing from "extinct" to "data deficient" on the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

The decision came after the society accepted that two people had seen the bird on the West Coast near Reefton in 2007. Ten further sightings of the South Island kokako between 1990 and 2008 were found to be "probable" or "possible".

The last accepted sighting had been in 1967.

Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said while it was still uncertain as to whether the bird was alive, this was the best sign yet.

"New Zealand is thought to have lost over 50 bird species. If just one of those extinctions turns out not to have happened, it would be incredibly good news," he said.

He said if the South Island kokako was still out there, it would "just be hanging on". More pest control work in the South Island was needed than ever before because of the reclassification, he said.

The North Island kokako, a different species, was considered endangered. 

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- Fairfax Media

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