World’s rarest black stilts bird gets increased

The wild population of black stilts bird witnessed an increase in the population when the NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) released 91 young birds in the Mackenzie Basin. Biodiversity Manager, Dean Nelson said 65 of the birds had been raised at the Captive Breeding Centre run by DOC staff in Twizel. The remaining 26 birds had been raised at the Isaacs Wildlife Trust All the birds were set free near Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, it was hoped that the nine month old birds would eventually disperse throughout the whole Mackenzie Basin.


black stiltsHuge boost for New Zealand’s critically endangered kakī
September 2013. The wild population of critically endangered kakī/black stilts received a much-needed boost when the NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) released 91 young birds in the Mackenzie Basin.

DOC Biodiversity Manager Dean Nelson said 65 of the birds had been raised at the Captive Breeding Centre run by DOC staff in Twizel. The remaining 26 birds had been raised at the Isaacs Wildlife Trust aviaries in Christchurch and then transported to the release site.

Set free in two releases near Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, it was hoped that the nine month old birds would eventually disperse throughout the whole Mackenzie Basin.

Record breeding season
“These releases are a result of last summer’s record breeding season, with 171 eggs brought to the Captive Breeding Centre. Not all the eggs hatched, but the 91 birds that have made it this far are going to massively increase the wild population. We released 31 juvenile birds earlier in the year because the breeding season was so successful,” said Mr Nelson.

23 wild pairs
Another record was the number of adult kakī breeding pairs located last summer which now stands at 23 productive pairs in the wild.

Predator problems
“The kakī population has fluctuated over the years as DOC staff tackle escalating predator numbers around braided riverbeds and wetland areas,” says Mr Nelson.

Major trapping program
An extensive trapping programme is managed in the Tasman valley near Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. In the last year alone (from March 2012 to February 2013) 863 hedgehogs, 285 feral cats, 243 stoats, 60 ferrets, 43 possums, 12 weasels and 4 rats have been caught.

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