Haast kiwis transferred to predator-free Rona Island

SERIOUS LOOK: Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Blair Hoult's kiwi tracking dog, Tussock, from Haast, keeps a close eye on his charge, a young Haast kiwi as Pomona Island Trust secretary Viv Shaw introduces the young bird to a group of interested Te Anau children.
SERIOUS LOOK: Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Blair Hoult's kiwi tracking dog, Tussock, from Haast, keeps a close eye on his charge, a young Haast kiwi as Pomona Island Trust secretary Viv Shaw introduces the young bird to a group of interested Te Anau children.

Some of New Zealand's most endangered native birds were moved to their very own "kiwi creche" in Fiordland yesterday.

Six juvenile Haast Tokoeka kiwi were moved to predator-free Rona Island on Lake Manapouri yesterday to mature in safety.

Pomona Island Trust secretary Viv Shaw said the trust manages the island as a "kiwi creche" and native bird sanctuary.

"We've had about 60 kiwi mature on the island so far, and it has been extremely successful."

"Without the island the survival rate would be very low."

The young birds are just four months old, and weigh between 200 and 500 grams.

They have come from the Haast Sanctuary, where Department of Conservation staff collected their eggs from wild kiwi nests before hatching them at their facility near Franz Josef.

"They are then nurtured until they are big enough to come here," Dr Shaw said.

It was incredibly exciting to be able to work with a critically endangered species, and to have such fabulous success, she said.

The trust plans to release juvenile Saddleback birds on Rona Island in March, while there are 15 kiwi on Pomona Island.

"Our target is to have a population of 30 kiwi on Pomona Island, so it is possible some of these six [juvenile kiwi] will end up on Pomona," she said.

The trust has previously released South Island bush robins and Mohua, or yellowheads, on Pomona Island.

"Both are doing extremely well," Dr Shaw said.

hannah.mcleod@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times