Date: 04 September 2013
The wild population of critically endangered kakī/black stilts, will receive a much-needed boost this week when the Department of Conservation (DOC) releases 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 at Tekapo and Pukaki, it is hoped that the nine-month-old birds will eventually disperse throughout the whole Mackenzie Basin.
“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 also released 31 juvenile birds earlier in the year near Lake Tekapo township because the breeding season was so successful,” said Mr Nelson.
Another record was the number of adult kakī breeding pairs located last summer which now stands at 23 productive pairs in the wild.
Local school children released dozens of black stilts into the wild near Lake Tekapo
“The kakī population has fluctuated over the years as DOC staff tackle escalating predator numbers around braided riverbeds and wetland areas,” says Mr Nelson.
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.
Members of the public, local runholders and school children were all invited to the releases.
“Young children from Haldon School and Twizel Area School attended the release near Lake Tekapo yesterday. Tomorrow students from Aoraki/Mount Cook School and Twizel Area School will set kakī free. It is a fantastic opportunity for people to be involved in liberating such a rare bird and a delight to share the experience,” said Mr Nelson.
Conservation Services Manager
+64 3 435 0764