‘Quest for kiwi’ is a national programme being launched in partnership with Department of Conservation (DOC) through NatureWatch NZ, an online platform for recording New Zealand’s natural history. It aims to clarify where kiwi are both present and absent, providing a better understanding of where conservation efforts are most needed to ensure kiwi are preserved for future generations.
Executive director of Kiwis for kiwi, Michelle Impey, said this is not only a data gathering exercise important to the ongoing work of saving kiwi from extinction but an opportunity for everyone to get involved and learn more about our national icon.
“We are encouraging everyone to report sightings and calls of kiwi especially in key areas where data is lacking so we can refresh our information and get to where we’re most needed.
“Up to three kiwi are dying every day and we know that more than 95% of kiwi chicks born in areas without predator control are killed before they reach breeding age. However, up to 60% of kiwi chicks survive in areas where predators are controlled.”
There are many ways to identify kiwi, from their calls, feathers, poo, burrows, footprints or probe holes. As many people will be unfamiliar with these different types of evidence, they can visit www.kiwisforkiwi.org to learn about what to look for, hear kiwi calls and view pictures.
Sightings and calls can be recorded using a mobile phone app or a camera. The information can be uploaded onto the Quest for kiwi web page where it will be posted to the kiwi location map and is available for verification from bird and kiwi specialists.
The Department of Conservation’s Kiwi Recovery Group leader, Jennifer Germano, says this initiative is about harnessing ‘people power’ to help address some of the gaps in our kiwi distribution knowledge. “It provides both an opportunity for people to share their experiences and observations in nature as well as data that we need to get a comprehensive view of kiwi populations in New Zealand,” she says.
The Department of Conservation and Kiwis for kiwi are working together to try to turn around the declining kiwi population. More than 90 community led projects over the last 20 years are making a difference, Ms Impey says.
“Saving kiwi from extinction is achievable. We know turning the declining kiwi population around is within our grasp but we have to take action now while we still have a base population of kiwi, before it’s too late. We need ongoing funding and on-the-ground support from our partners DOC, Iwi and the many volunteer groups who are critical to the success of our goals.
“At the beginning of the twentieth century it is believed there were several million kiwi. It is estimated there are now around 70,000 kiwi. If we act now, we can save kiwi for our future generations – and that’s great news for every New Zealander,” says Ms Impey.
This year Kiwis for kiwi is launching a new fundraising initiative for Save Kiwi Month – The Great Kiwi Morning Tea. People are encouraged to get together at schools, at work, with friends, family or neighbours to share a traditional Kiwi morning tea and collect donations.
“Every $100 raised is enough to protect a kiwi for an entire year. Funds will go towards predator control, research and monitoring programmes, kiwi avoidance training for dogs and Operation Nest Egg. This programme involves removing vulnerable kiwi eggs and young chicks from the burrows until they are able to be safely returned to the wild without risk of predation,” says Ms Impey.
The inaugural Great Kiwi Morning Tea is being held on the 16th October. People wanting to host a morning tea can register at www.kiwisforkiwi.org and receive a pack of recipes, invitations, interesting kiwi facts, a poster and more.