James Rus­sell El­e­ment editor

Element - - CONTENTS -

Just a week or two af­ter the an­nounce­ment of Gareth Mor­gan’s anti-cat cru­sade, I was crouched at the base of a gi­ant puriri tree, deep in the bush of Great Bar­rier Is­land. “Go on, take a look,” said Scott Sam­bell, man­ager of Glen­fern Sanc­tu­ary. I lay down, and wrig­gled a lit­tle way into a dark, earthy cav­ern un­der the tree roots. I flicked on my torch, and there it was – the tiny grey fluff­ball of a black pe­trel, sit­ting qui­etly in its nest.

With its mother away fish­ing for the day, the chick’s as­ton­ish­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity was a rev­e­la­tion – here was an an­i­mal which had evolved in such an un­be­liev­ably be­nign en­vi­ron­ment it had ab­so­lutely no de­fence aside from keep­ing sch­tum. I re­alised Mor­gan was right, if we are to keep our birds.

Now, Land­care Re­search has re­leased a roadmap which shows how the 2% an­nual de­cline in kiwi num­bers can be halted and, with in­vest­ment, turned around.

The re­port says that the ex­tra fund­ing needed to in­crease Kiwi num­bers across all 10 species by 2% a year is ‘sig­nif­i­cant’, but I’d ar­gue that an an­nual $8.1m on top of the Kiwi Con­ser­va­tion Fund­ing Pack­age an­nounced in bud­get 2015 is an in­ex­pen­sive no-brainer.

Make no mis­take about the main cul­prits; dogs and cats, fer­rets and stoats. More than 95% of kiwi chicks born in ar­eas with­out preda­tor con­trol are killed be­fore they reach breed­ing age. How­ever, up to 60% of kiwi chicks sur­vive in ar­eas where preda­tors are con­trolled.

Much of that suc­cess is down to the in­cred­i­ble vol­un­teers who pro­tect their own pri­vate patch, the suc­cess of which has pro­duced solid base­line in­for­ma­tion for this re­port. Their ded­i­ca­tion is to be con­grat­u­lated.

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