A bird in the hand was a bonus and a great surprise to contractors out in the field who thought they were collecting two kiwi eggs for incubation – only to discover one had already hatched.
The egg is currently at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre being incubated and the chick was released, after a health check, at the end of last month to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari as the 34th kiwi released under Kiwis for kiwi’s kōhanga strategy.
The strategy to accelerate kiwi numbers and turn around the two percent decline involves releasing chicks into predator free areas. With Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari being the country’s largest predator proof fenced sanctuary, it provides an ideal site for one of the kiwi ‘kōhanga.’ As it is fully protected from predators, there is no need to wait until kiwi are large enough to defend themselves but can safely begin their new lives immediately.
Little Piki Maunga – meaning ‘mountain climber’ – was named by iwi, Ngā Raura, and is the first kiwi from their rohe to be released on to the Mountain.
Using Operation Nest Egg, chicks hatched from wild-collected eggs are incubated in captivity and released into existing predator free habitats where they can breed in a safe environment. Once we have grown those areas to near-capacity, we can then relocate some of the offspring to start new families in other places. By increasing the supply chain and getting these kōhanga kiwi sites to capacity more quickly, we can now achieve in 5-10 years what would previously have taken 50 years or more.