Date: 22 August 2017
The kiwi, named Monte Carlo had been hatched and raised in captivity before being released back into North Ōkārito Forest near Franz Josef in 2014, and at four years old was just coming up to breeding age. There are only an estimated 450 rowi left, and substantial effort goes into caring for the small population.
Biodiversity ranger Stacey Lockie says "Kiwi have no road sense and have been known to dart in-front of vehicles fairly last minute. Kiwi living near the road will often have territories that include areas on both sides of the road, so they will routinely cross the road to access the entire area."
Stacey says "These kiwi are really rare, so look out for the kiwi road signs and take a bit of extra care driving along this road to keep our rowi safe".
There is one natural population of about 450 rowi (Apteryx rowi) in Ōkārito forest and surrounds in South Westland. Ōkārito was designated as one of the five special Kiwi Sanctuaries in 2000. Rowi can also be found on two predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds, following successful translocations of birds.
Unlike some other kiwi species, male and female rowi both take turns incubating their eggs. Although they do not rely on their parents for food and protection (all kiwi chicks are self-sufficient as soon as they hatch), rowi juveniles often stay with their family group for years.
Rowi are slow breeders, normally laying just one or two eggs per year – making the death of an adult bird all the more devastating to the population.
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