Charlie Mitchell18:00, Jul 06 2019
A new population of our rarest kiwi was discovered after a conservation ranger heard a kiwi call in a recording from the area.
A new population of our most endangered kiwi has been found on a remote plateau in South Westland, a welcome surprise to authorities who say it is a vital boost for their conservation efforts.
A group of Haast tokoeka – the most endangered kiwi subspecies, with an estimated wild population of fewer than 500 – has been found in an isolated part of South Westland.
The exact number of birds in the group is unknown, but it is thought to contain at least 16 individuals. They were found by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers in early April, after one ranger had heard what sounded like a kiwi on a years-old recording taken from the area.
The new birds increase the existing Haast tokoeka population by up to five per cent, and add much-needed genetic diversity to the existing population.
The find was unexpected, as wild Haast tokoeka are only known to inhabit a steep, mountainous area along the Haast ranges some 20 or 30 kilometres east.