Friday, April 22, 2011

Another day, another takahe

Long thought to be extinct, takahe were discovered alive and well in Fiordland by Geoffrey Orbell in 1948 – about 250 of them. However by 1981 there were only 121 left. A conservation programme saw numbers rise to 171 in the wild by 2005. In 2008 DOC estimated the total population in the wild and in island sanctuaries to be 227.

This afternoon we took some friends from England to Maungatautari Ecological Island to see some native bush and listen to the birds singing behind the 47 kilometre fence which keeps predators out. A breeding pair of takahe, Matariki and Hauhunga, was introduced in 2006; their first chick was hatched in January 2010; two more hatched in November. Another breeding pair was released in 2009 but I can’t find any reports of issue. Even so there must be seven takahe on the mountain now – though as the sanctuary covers 3400 hectares, there’s little chance you’d see one.

But we did. About 10 minutes into our walk in the southern enclosure we saw a takahe, just five metres from the track, calmly waddling around grubbing for food, which apparently is what they do all day. It looked like a big fat pukeko and was completely unfazed by four adults and three children stomping up the hill so close.

Of course then our friends wanted to see a kiwi. . .

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