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Otako and Blitzen, two male takahē from Burwood Bush are now the new ‘bachelors’ checking out prospective female birds on Kapiti.

Date:  03 September 2010

Otako and Blitzen, two male takahē from Burwood Bush are now the new ‘bachelors’ checking out prospective female birds on Kapiti Island following an exchange of takahē by Department of Conservation (DOC) in Wellington last week.

Passengers on flights between Invercargill and Wellington may have been surprised to find themselves sharing the cabin with the takahē who travelled in Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue purpose-built boxes in their own seats, but DOC ranger Helen Dodson said both Air New Zealand crew and some passengers were delighted to be able to view the birds close-up. “Everyone was amazed at the size of these ‘pukeko on steroids’ “, said Ms Dodson. “Takahē are so rare that not many people ever get the chance to see them beyond the TV screen”.

Otako and Blitzen’s flight north and the matchmaking efforts of DOC are part of an exchange of birds between Kapiti Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island and Burwood Bush Takahē Breeding Unit aimed at widening the gene pool in all the takahē populations.

“Kapiti had a few too many females which we needed at Burwood, so we exchanged our two boys for Kawa and Whata, two female birds.” said Ms Dodson. “If we didn’t move birds between these relatively small populations we would lose diversity in the takahē population and rapidly have problems with closely related birds breeding with each other which in turn would cause health problems including infertility”.

With takahē numbering around 230 individuals nationally intensive management is still essential. Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue has been involved in the programme for six years and through funding upgrades to facility and travel for staff accompanying birds and other improvements to the Takahē Recovery Programme has provided a major boost to the breeding potential of takahē around New Zealand.

Ms Dodson said she hoped the all the birds would settle in to their new homes and begin breeding this season with the two females becoming part of the captive breeding population at Burwood and the males becoming part of a natural breeding population on Kapiti Island.


Phil Tisch
Department of Conservation
Phone: + 64 3 249 0200

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