Kiwi head off to multiply
The genetic pool of Tanekaha’s kiwi population has been boosted with the release of two more birds.
It is hoped that Alma and Hugh will find mates among the small but growing kiwi population, and produce chicks.
Their fresh genes will help to avoid problems that can be associated with inbreeding of small populations and ensure longterm viability of kiwi in the Tanekaha area.
Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area co-ordinator Edwin Smith said he was was delighted to welcome Alma and Hugh.
“More and more locals are telling me about hearing kiwi calling at night on their farms,” he said, “and it is an honour to welcome these two new kiwi into our area. I know our community will keep working hard to keep them safe within our 800ha predator-controlled area. We hope they will boost our kiwi population with many chicks over the years to come.”
The birds were named by the Tanekaha Community Pest Control group in honour of longtime residents Hugh Ellis and Alma Lambert, both major contributors to the small farming community north of Whangarei.
The kiwi had been caught on Matakohe-Limestone Island by ranger Emma Craig and accredited kiwi handler Todd Hamilton. They were each given a health check and weighed to ensure they were in good shape and ready to graduate from the island kiwi creche.
“Hugh is around 13 months old, while Alma is closer to two and a half years,” Emma said.
“This is getting close to breeding age, and ideally we don’t want kiwi breeding in the creche, so it was high time for them to graduate and return to the mainland, where they can help boost other populations.”
Todd said the resident kiwi population at Tanekaha, where 12 farmers were working together to control predators and maintain good dog control over 800ha, was growing. Seeing Alma and Hugh at the release, and being next door to such a successful community-led kiwi project, had inspired neighbouring farmers in the Hukerenui area to establish their own landcare group.
Discussions were currently taking place with the Northland Regional Council biosecurity team and Kiwi Coast to explore funding and support options to get the project up and running.
“With the Hukerenui farmers starting their own kiwi project, there is a possibility that over the next few years we may be able to link the predator trapping into a combined network stretching over a few thousand hectares, Kiwi Coast coordinator Ngaire Tyson said.
“Kiwi can travel large distances to find new mates and explore new territory, and this would allow them to do so in safety.”
Mangonui woman Nissa Kake was very impressed to find a morepork (ruru) peering at her from its perch in a tree when she arrived home from work on a recent afternoon. “Wickedly cool!” she said.
One last cuddle for a kiwi called Alma before her release into the wild.