Great Season For Kiwi Chicks
27 May 2008
A South Island wildlife reserve has notched up its most successful Kiwi breeding season ever having raised and released 48 chicks.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch has had a bumper season compared to last year when just 15 chicks were released. The centre also successfully bred a rare Great Spotted Kiwi chick this season.
Director Michael Willis said he was thrilled with the season's success, particularly the boost given to endangered South Island kiwi species.
The Haast Tokoeka and the Okarito Rowi kiwi have populations of fewer than 400 birds. Of the 21 Haast Tokoeka eggs brought to the reserve, 18 were hatched successfully.
The reserve saw the same number of successful Okarito Rowi hatches, from 19 eggs.
Willis said monitoring the hatchings could be extremely nerve-wracking.
"The devotion of the staff has been outstanding,'' he said.
The manager of Willowbank's New Zealand centre, Ami Brown, said goodbye to the last of the season's chicks at the beginning of the month.
"They just left to go to a predator-free island up in the Abel Tasman so we were sad to see them go but we were happy too.''
Willis said they expected the first eggs for the next season to start arriving in July.
Willowbank is the only South Island breeding centre for Operation Nest Egg, an initiative of the Bank of New Zealand's Save the Kiwi Trust.
Run in co-operation with the Department of Conservation, the programme sees kiwi eggs taken to breeding centres from sanctuaries around New Zealand. They are monitored before and after hatching.
DOC bio-diversity manager for the South Westland region Gareth Hopkins said he was pleased with the results of the past season, but was keen to see improvements in the upcoming year.
"We can always do better,'' he said.
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