Introduction

Twenty four South Island robin/kakaruai have been released at the Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound.

Twenty four South Island robin/kakaruai have been released into their new home on the Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound.

The transfer of these feisty little forest birds, taken from the nearby Eglinton Valley, follows three years of pest trapping through funding from Eco Tours Cruize Milford, in association with the Fiordland Conservation Trust.

Kate Sweetman and Russell Delahunty release robins.
Kate Sweetman and Russell Delahunty of Cruize Milford help to release robins

As a direct result of this partnership, people visiting the highly accessible Milford Sound foreshore walkway, will be able to see and hear the robins as they move around the forest.

Peter Egerton, General Manager for Eco Tours Cruize Milford, said his staff felt extremely proud to have reached this day. “We have been able to give something back to the magical environment that we promote and introduce people to from all corners of the world”.

DOC Te Anau Biodiversity Ranger Gerard Hill said that effective rat and stoat control was vital to keep species such as robin alive and well on the mainland of New Zealand. “It’s great to see a community sponsored initiative like this reach the point where the reintroduction of species such as South Island robin can take place”.

The work of removing rats and stoats from the Cleddau Delta over the past few years has not only allowed for this release of the South Island robin, it has also created a safer habitat for the existing and breeding populations of native birds living in the area. Similarly, intensive rat and stoat control on a wider scale in the Eglinton Valley has meant that the robin population there was relatively healthy and able to be used to as a source population for this transfer.

Department of Conservation (DOC) and Cruize Milford staff, along with four pupils from Fiordland College, carried out the transfer. The school pupils were participating in order to give them a taste of what they can expect to be doing in their own “Kids Restore the Kepler” project which was launched last year. 

“We hope that all visitors to Milford Sound and other areas of Fiordland from around the world will benefit from schemes such as these being undertaken in our region” said Peter Egerton.

This transfer of birds is bringing a species back to an area that they had disappeared from. Ongoing stoat and rat control in the Cleddau Delta will help ensure that the robins that settle near the release site will be able to breed successfully in years to come.

More information

  • South Island robins were once widespread throughout Fiordland National Park and are still common in some eastern areas. It is likely that rats and stoats caused local extinction in the Cleddau catchment.
  • During September 2007 work began on a project to control introduced animal pests in a 40 ha area of coastal forest covering the old Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound.
  • The project is funded by Eco Tours & Cruize Milford - a tourism operator running guided coach journeys between Queenstown, Te Anau, and Milford Sound and cruises of Milford Sound.
  • This project compliments wider stoat control programmes maintained by DOC and other businesses and community members in the Milford-Cleddau area, and is part of the larger Clinton/Arthur/Cleddau whio (blue duck) recovery site.
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