Date: 16 March 2012
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff recently completed the first health check on a critically endangered takahē family, confirming that life at the Te Anau Wildlife Centre is certainly suiting Tawa, the youngest member of the family.
“This is the first time we have had a young takahē chick on display at the Wildlife Centre, so we have been keeping a close eye on its progress,” said Glen Greaves, DOC takahē ranger. “From regular observation we were confident that Tawa was growing fast, but were delighted to have this confirmed with the takahē’s first health check.”
DOC ranger Glen Greaves observing Tumbles and Tawa
Mr Greaves said an average four month old takahē would weigh approximately 2 kilograms and grow to an adult weight of 3 kilograms at one year of age, but Tawa came in at a whopping 2.4 kilograms. The chick is also well on the way towards getting its adult feathers, and is developing the typical red colouring in its beak.
The takahē family are proving a popular attraction for both locals and visitors to Te Anau. Tumbles, Kawa and their foster chick Tawa were introduced to the Wildlife Centre in December and have quickly become accustomed to their new surroundings. They can frequently be seen out in the open, unaffected by a constant stream of visitors, including locals keeping a regular eye on the progress of Tawa.
Kawa feeding Tawa
For many years the Wildlife Centre had only one or two adult birds, surplus to the Takahē Recovery Breeding Programme. However the support of Mitre10 Takahē Rescue and changes to the breeding programme at nearby Burwood Bush Takahē Rearing Unit prompted DOC to consider introducing a pair of birds and a foster chick.
“We know how important it is to Te Anau to have takahē at the local wildlife centre and its proximity to Burwood Takahē Rearing Unit means we have the added bonus of being able to use these takahē to foster a chick,” said Mr Greaves.
Mr Greaves said the successful fostering of Tawa by Kawa and Tumbles gave DOC the confidence to continue and possibly expand the takahē breeding programme at the Wildlife Centre. A second chick may be introduced to the takahē family within the next few weeks, he said.
- Mitre10 Takahē Rescue has sponsored the Takahē Recovery Programme for the last six years, contributing the development of the breeding unit, the health checks and transfers of takahē around the country as well as a number of other projects that have supported the growth of the national takahē population.
- The Te Anau Wildlife Centre pioneered the artificial incubation of takahē eggs, hatching its first chick back in 1983. One of the chicks, Alpine, lived the rest of her life at the Wildlife Centre celebrating her 27th birthday and being the oldest known takahē prior to dying in 2009.
- From 1985 through until 2010 eggs takahē eggs were artificially incubated and the resultant chicks hand-reared at the Burwood Bush Takahē Rearing Unit near Te Anau.
- Tumbles and Kawa are both infertile and so cannot have chicks of their own, but will be used as foster parents teaching takahē chicks all the skills to live in the adult takahē world.
- Kawa was hatched on Kapiti Island. Kapiti is one of several islands around the country that provide safe homes for populations of takahē. Kawa was brought to Burwood last year as part of an exchange of birds funded by Mitre10 Takahē Rescue to ensure breeding populations remain healthy.
- Tumbles was taken as an egg from the Snag Burn in the Murchison Mountains of Fiordland. Tumbles was incubated and hatched and raised using a takahē glove puppet at Burwood Takahē Rearing Unit near Te Anau.
- The name Tumbles was given by Southland teenager Sophie Smith. At ten years old Sophie wrote a letter that led to Mitre10 establishing Mitre10 Takahē Rescue which has now supported takahē conservation for six years.