Date: 18 March 2016
The release marks the remarkable growth of the recovery programme at this site since 2002. At that time just two pairs of birds were monitored on the Oparara River. The security site, which now spans 3 catchments contains 45 pair of whio in addition to the recent arrivals, who are yet to pair up.
Students from Karamea Area School help DOC staff release whio on the Oparara River
Ranger Guinevere Coleman, who has worked on the whio recovery programme for two years said that the 5 whio being released were all siblings.
"We are releasing 3 males and 2 females who were collected as eggs from the same nest back in October. If all goes well, these birds in turn will breed and help to strengthen the population of whio in this area".
Despite their family ties, these whio won't spend long in each others' company. Whio are notoriously territorial and during breeding season fiercely defend their territory from other birds.
This site has had considerable support from Solid Energy in the past. It's now managed under a partnership between Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation who are working together to secure the future of this unique vulnerable native bird. Operating under the name of Whio Forever this partnership is fast tracking implementation of the national Whio Recovery Plan to protect whio and increase public awareness.
The support of Genesis Energy is enabling DOC to double the number of fully secure whio breeding sites throughout the country, boost pest control efforts and enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.