Know your Takahe¯

Element - - Lifestyle -

The flight­less takahe¯ had been be­lieved to be ex­tinct since 1898, un­til it was re­dis­cov­ered in the rugged Murchi­son Moun­tains of Fiord­land. To­day it is still en­dan­gered, with only about 57 breed­ing pairs now lo­cated at preda­tor free sites and far less re­main­ing in the Murchi­son Moun­tains. In­tro­duced red deer com­pete for their food, (takahe¯ pre­dom­i­nantly eat par­tic­u­lar kinds of tus­sock grass), and in­tro­duced stoats also prey on the birds. Crit­i­cally en­dan­gered, the low num­ber of breed­ing takahe¯ has led to prob­lems with in­breed­ing and a sub­se­quent lack of fer­til­ity. The rel­a­tively small size of their is­land havens has wors­ened the prob­lem and is now ad­dressed by reg­u­larly trans­fer­ring young birds be­tween sites. The chal­lenge of es­tab­lish­ing ro­bust fu­ture pop­u­la­tions of th­ese birds con­tin­ues.

Photo: sup­plied

Univer­sity of Otago pro­fes­sor Sir Alan Mark holds a chick at the open­ing of new pens at the Bur­wood Bush Breed­ing Unit. Adrian Key of Mitre 10 MEGA and DoC’s Martin Genet look on.

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