Know your Takahe¯
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.
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.