Date: 24 September 2019
The LandSAR team found her trapped on a small exposed ledge in snowy mountainous terrain behind the South Westland township of Fox Glacier. She was relocated to lowland forest but has since been keeping Department of Conservation rangers busy trying to track her whereabouts.
DOC Senior Ranger Tracey Dearlove says Aroha, who has travelled about 5km from her last release site isn’t the only rowi kiwi walking large distances.
"Another kiwi, Taonga, has headed for the coastal mouth of the Waikukupa River, a distance of approximately 10 kilometres.
“The rowi wear transmitters and are being monitored for a year so their whereabouts can be followed and they can be caught for regular health checks. They were first released into the Omoeroa ranges in December 2018.
“Despite their adventures, the newly established population of rowi kiwi is faring well in its new habitat in the Omoeroas, adjacent to Fox Glacier in South Westland. Of the original kiwi that was released, 33 of the 34 rowi are still alive, and health checks of a number of the birds show that they are gaining weight and are in excellent health, with glossy feathers and very few parasites.
“Rowi, now one of New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, were historically widespread along the South Island West Coast and up into the East Coast of the North Island before habitat loss and introduced predators reduced their numbers to a small remnant population. The new site in the Omoeroa ranges would have originally been home to rowi, so returning them to this forest marks a significant milestone in their recovery.
“We are really excited that the new population is thriving in this area with plenty of food and space to establish territories.”
The rowi population had reduced to a tiny number of just 160 kiwi in Okarito Forest before intensive breeding support work started with the kiwi in the early 2000s. Since that time, the rowi population has grown to almost 600 kiwi.
With kiwi like Aroha crossing the state highway not far from Fox township DOC is reminding motorists to beware of kiwi crossing roads at night. DOC is also running avian aversion training for dogs on the West Coast, to help reduce the number of kiwi and other native ground-nesting birds being killed or disturbed by dogs.
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