21 Oct 2010

Rare kiwi being released at South Island sites

8:17 am on 21 October 2010

The Department of Conservation says it will release more than half a dozen of a critically endangered kiwi species into a sanctuary in Otago next week, the first time the breed has been released in the region for 130 years.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) says there are only 350 of the Haast tokoeka left in the wild.

The birds will be released on 30 October at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, a fully-fenced, predator-proof reserve north of Dunedin.

The juvenile kiwi will come from a population on Rona Island, a predator-free island in Lake Manapouri.

DoC says the transfer is a huge step in ensuring the survival of the species.

Rowi kiwi being released in Westland

Meanwhile, a number of Rowi kiwi will be released into the Okarito Forest in South Westland on Thursday

Thirty-four chicks of the rarest kiwi species, which were raised on a predator-free island in the Marlborough Sounds, are now big enough to defend themselves.

Jim Livingstone of the Department of Conservation says it is estimated only 350 adult Rowi are left, and none has been seen in the North Okarito Forest for more than 20 years.

Mr Livingstone says the introduced birds will be monitored very closely because there will be a lot of competition for territory.