The Little spotted kiwi/ kiwipukupuku that were returned to Dusky Sound in Fiordland for the first time in more than a century in April earlier this year are not only thriving, but significantly are also breeding.

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 DOC and iwi.  Originally from the South Island, little spotted kiwi were present in Dusky Sound up until the late 1800s.

Hannah Edmonds a biodiversity ranger from DOC has been on Anchor Island with another kiwi handler, Jane Tansell for the past 6 days to check the bird’s health and weights. The kiwi are required to be monitored for a year after release.

Hannah Edmonds reports: “We were ecstatic to find a female kiwi that showed signs of an egg inside her, and several males with healthy weights.” Ideally the kiwi would have been monitored earlier, however funding was not finalised until July. Little spotted kiwi typically begin breeding in September, and the team were aware that some pairs may be nesting, therefore once this was detected, no more females were handled.

Fiordland Conservation Trust Chair Murray Willans says the kiwi transfer was made possible by financial support from the Fiordland Lobster Company, with funding for monitoring the birds post release coming from Kiwis for Kiwis. “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. News of them breeding already was simply fantastic, more than what we had hoped for. They’re clearly responding to the Fiordland habitat and happy to be back home in the south.”

Mark Peychers on behalf of the Fiordland Lobster Company said the company was thrilled with the monitoring results and ecstatic they were breeding so early in the piece.

The kiwi will be monitored again in January 2016, when their transmitters will be removed and if they continue to do well, more birds will be moved early in 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 have become essential for its survival.    The species was first returned to Fiordland toTe Kakahu/ Chalky Island in 2008 and also lives on several other off-shore islands as well as the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington.