It has been six months since the community helped us release a total of 35 juvenile rowi into Okarito forest – the biggest one-day release in the history of Operation Nest Egg in Okarito happened in October 2010. Some of the young birds made history by being released into north Okarito forest – an area that they have not been recorded living in for many decades.
For the DOC staff, this moment is one of the most amazing times of year….seeing our rowi chicks heading back into the forest to live and eventually produce chicks of their own!
On Friday myself and our Community Relations Ranger, Cornelia, joined Rachael who is studying rowi for her PhD, to visit Whataroa School. We had been invited to talk to the students about their new kiwi neighbours in north Okarito forest.
These pioneering birds are being monitored closely by the DOC team and Rachael to make sure that the habitat is suitable for them and that they are gaining weight as they should.
For the first time in many years, the people of Whataroa have kiwi living almost on their doorsteps – close enough to hear them calling at night! The students of Whataroa School have adopted these young birds and will be involved in recording their progress into the future.
The students have named each kiwi, and will keep track of what the birds do, where they go and how they behave. Students and their families will also have the opportunity to accompany DOC rangers when they go to check up on the birds and get to know the rowi personally.
Whataroa School students already know a great deal about how to look after kiwi, and many families already trap rats and stoats on their properties. With a team like Whataroa School behind them, the rowi of north Okarito forest have a bright future.