The two South Island sanctuaries are for New Zealand’s most endangered kiwi species—rowi and Haast tokoeka. The three North Island sanctuaries contain sample populations of brown kiwi, the species suffering the greatest rate of decline.
Why we need these sanctuaries
Unmanaged populations of kiwi on New Zealand’s mainland are getting smaller. As well, their habitat is shrinking. The overall rate of decline for unmanaged kiwi populations is estimated to be 3% per year for brown kiwi, and 2% for great spotted kiwi and tokoeka.
To turn the tide, researchers are looking for cost-effective ways to control the kiwi’s predators over large areas—without these, kiwi may disappear from much of New Zealand’s mainland within a human lifetime (75 years).
While new techniques and technologies are investigated and tested, the DOC-managed sanctuaries provide a safe haven. Within their boundaries, more young kiwi survive each year, allowing the populations to increase. Brown kiwi in the North Island sanctuaries are expected to double in number by 2015, while the rowi and Haast tokoeka populations in the South Island sanctuaries are expected to double by at least 2020, possibly 2018.
The sanctuaries are also good places for research and monitoring to improve the techniques we use to save kiwi. They’ve taught us that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer—how we manage kiwi needs to be tailored to each site and to each species.