Twenty birds were transferred from Kapiti Island to predator-free Anchor Island/Pukenui in Dusky Sound to start another population of this endangered kiwi in a conservation project led by the Fiordland Conservation Trust, with funding support from the Fiordland Lobster Company and in partnership with the Department of Conservation and with support from Ngāi Tahu Rūnaka o Ōraka-Aparima and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira. Originally from the South Island, little spotted kiwi were present in Dusky Sound up until the late 1800s and are the smallest kiwi species.
Hannah Edmonds a biodiversity ranger from the Department of Conservation has been on Anchor Island with another ranger, Sanjay Thakur for the past week to check the health of the birds and to remove transmitters that were affixed prior to release for monitoring and funded by Kiwis for Kiwis. Edmonds reports: “Sanjay and I discovered a little spotted kiwi chick when we were removing a transmitter from one of its parents. Its parent is the male we suspected was partnered with the gravid female Jane Tansell and I caught in August last year. We caught seven kiwis in total, all had really good weights and were in great condition.”
Fiordland Conservation Trust Chair Kim Hollows says “the Trust is extremely grateful for the significant financial assistance which has enabled a new population of these iconic birds to be established and monitored in Fiordland. The birds are clearly responding to their habitat where food appears to be plentiful as their diet is closely related to their breeding success.”
Alan Buckner on behalf of the Fiordland Lobster Company said the discovery of the chick was fantastic and a very promising indication that the little spotted kiwis are thriving in their new home on Anchor Island.
DOC Principal Ranger Lindsay Wilson echoes the comments of Hollows and Buckner, “It’s simply fantastic that we are able to follow in the footsteps of the early conservationist Richard Henry and have these iconic birds thriving and breeding in Dusky Sound, significantly the first time in well over a century. While it’s still early days, this is very positive and promising.”
More birds will be moved in April 2016 to Anchor Island/Pukenui to reach a target of 45 founding birds.
Little spotted kiwi became extinct on the South Island mainland in the early 1900s—and predator-free islands like Anchor Island and Kapiti Island have become essential for its survival. The species was first returned to Fiordland to Te Kakahu/Chalky Island in 2008 and also lives on several other off-shore islands as well as the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington.