Two men wielding a crowbar raid wild nests in Napier, possibly to sell the animals into the illegal wildlife trade
Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Thu 31 Jan 2019 00.48 GMTLast modified on Thu 31 Jan 2019 01.04 GMT
Two of the world’s smallest and most vulnerable penguins have been stolen in a brazen overnight raid on their nests in New Zealand.
Little blue penguins – or kororā – are native to New Zealand and are listed by the Department of Conservation (DoC) as an at-risk, declining population. Little blues are the world’s smallest penguin, and are threatened by common predators such as dogs and cats, urban development on their coastal environment and being hit by cars, boats or caught in nets.
Last week two men wielding a crowbar orchestrated a late-night raid on a little blue penguin burrow at Perfume Point in Napier, on the east coast of the North Island.
The DoC believes the thieves used the crowbar to prise heavy rocks off the penguins burrow, and then hooked the instrument around the birds’ necks to pull them from their sanctuary.
One penguin died in the attack, and two others were wrapped in towels and taken away in a vehicle, in what DoC staff worry may not be a one-off smuggling attempt, with the birds likely destined for the illegal wildlife trade.
Rod Hansen, a DoC officer at Hawkes Bay, described his team as “outraged and disturbed” by the incident.