Ko¯kako re-es­tab­lished on Mount Piron­gia

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

The next phases of es­tab­lish­ing a self­sus­tain­ing pop­u­la­tion of ko¯kako on Mt Piron­gia be­gins later this month.

Last year the first ko¯kako were re­leased on the maunga as the first step in re­turn­ing the song­bird to a lo­ca­tion where it was once plen­ti­ful.

The 20 birds came from Waipapa in North­ern Pure­ora For­est and in the first wave of translo­ca­tions this year 10 Waipapa birds sourced from that lo­ca­tion.

Then around mid-July, up to 14 ko¯kako from Tir­i­tiri Matangi Is­land in the Hau­raki Gulf are planned to be trans­ferred to Mt Piron­gia and a per­mit for this has just been se­cured from the De­part­ment of Conservation.

So­ci­ety chair­per­son Clare St Pierre is thrilled about the prospect.

“These ko¯kako are de­scen­dants of the orig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion of birds that once lived on the maunga, so re­leas­ing them on Mt Piron­gia will be hugely sig­nif­i­cant,” she says.

“In­ter­est­ingly, the first re­search work na­tion­ally on the plight of the ko¯kako was prob­a­bly done on the south­ern side of Mt Piron­gia in the 1960s and it was from this area that the last re­main­ing were cap­tured in the 1990s so they could be part of a breed­ing pro­gramme to pre­vent their DNA from dy­ing out.

“How fit­ting that their de­scen­dants are now be­ing given a safe home back on that same maunga.”

A num­ber of peo­ple in­volved in that early work are still in the Waikato area, such as Alan Saun­ders with Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, Gerry Kes­sels from Te Pahu¯ and Tony Roxburgh with Waipa¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil.

The so­ci­ety is also grate­ful to all those who have made this achieve­ment pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, De­part­ment of Conservation, Pa­cific Devel­op­ment and Conservation Fund, Leo Kop­pens, EB Firth Fam­ily Trust and Pu¯ rekireki Marae.

The so­ci­ety’s project to re­turn ko¯ kako will be the sub­ject of an ed­u­ca­tional video this year for pri­mary and se­condary school chil­dren as an ex­am­ple of lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion.

Pro­duced by LEARNZ and co-funded by WWF, Waipa¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, it will form the ba­sis of a vir­tual field trip and we­bi­nar which is ex­pected to en­gage over 3000 New Zealand school chil­dren.

Of the ko¯ kako re­leased on Mt Piron­gia last year, 16 of the orig­i­nal 20 have been lo­cated and all but one of them were in­side the low pest area man­aged by the so­ci­ety.

Two pairs nested suc­cess­fully and three chicks from one nest were banded. Un­for­tu­nately, none of the banded chicks could be lo­cated at the time they were ex­pected to fledge.

Mon­i­tor­ing of all the ko¯kako will be con­tin­ued as part of the translo­ca­tion re­quire­ments for the project.

Fur­ther translo­ca­tions of ko¯kako are planned in 2019 to bring the to­tal num­ber of ko¯kako re­leased to 40, the min­i­mum num­ber of founders needed for a new and ge­net­i­cally ro­bust pop­u­la­tion.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the so­ci­ety and vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, con­tact Clare St Pierre on 027 324 8195, go to www.mt­piron­gia.org.nz or find the so­ci­ety on Facebook.


ECOL­O­GIST Dave Bry­den and Ter­tia Thur­ley of the De­part­ment of Conservation hold­ing a ko¯ kako im­me­di­ately af­ter cap­ture.


BANDED ko¯ kako on Mt Piron­gia.

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