From Kapiti Island back to Dusky Sound's Anchor Island/Pukenui
- thanks to the Fiordland Lobster Company
Once again the Fiordland Lobster Company is lending a helping hand to the most iconic of our endangered native birds, the kiwi. This time it's the little spotted kiwi, apteryx owenii, the most vulnerable of our national bird to introduced predators.
Extinct on the mainland
Originally from the South island, the little spotted is the only one of the kiwi species to become extinct on the mainland. Off-shore predator-free islands have become essential for its long-term survival. As early as 1890-1910, a number of the little spotted kiwi were translocated to Kapiti Island. The first transfer back to Fiordland was in 2008-10, to Chalky/Te Kakahu Island.
Although the overall population has grown to around 1500, more help is needed.
Fiordland Lobster Company's commitment
When the Fiordland Conservation Trust in partnership with the Department of Conservation called for funding to help establish another offshore island population in Fiordland, Alan Buckner, CEO of the Fiordland Lobster Company, felt that the project ticked all the boxes.
Firstly it is a Fiordland project. As Alan explained, the shareholders of the lobster company are still mainly fishermen who live and work in the Fiordland area and Te Anau is still the home base of the Fiordland Lobster Company even though their business is international.
Secondly the project is focussed on helping kiwi. The company has previously worked with kiwi in Fiordland, having sponsored the cost of translocating Haast Kiwi to Coal Island in 2009. This project commenced in 2014 with the aim of establishing a new population of the little spotted kiwi on Anchor Island/Pukenui in the Dusky Sound complex, and is further evidence of the company’s commitment to our iconic species.
The plan for establishing this new population
Now stoat-free, forest-clad Anchor is an island with an ecosystem becoming as healthy as it has been in decades. As Hannah Edmonds, DOC biodiversity ranger explained, the plan is that between 2014-2016 up to 45 kiwi will be transferred from Kapiti Island to Anchor, with up to 20 birds being transferred at any one time.
The best time to undertake translocations is from March-June, just before the breeding season. It is hoped that translocations will start mid March 2015. On Kapiti Island, the kiwi will be fitted with radio transmitters several months in advance and then tracked on transfer day, ensuring as smooth a transfer as possible. Air New Zealand are providing the wings from Wellington to Queenstown for these little flightless birds. From there to Dusky’s Anchor Island, helicopter transport will be needed. Three to four separate transfers may be required over a number of years with the first cohort being closely monitored for health and weight gain to ensure the project is going according to plan. (Photo courtesy of © Simon Fordham/NaturePix.)
How the Fiordland Conservation Trust sees the project
FCT chairperson, Murray Willans, explained it was exactly the sort of translocation project that the Trust loves undertaking. And the third reason why the Fiordland Lobster Company wanted to be involved in this project is the Fiordland Conservation Trust’s project management experience.
It will be another jigsaw piece being put in place in the restoration of Fiordland’s Dusky Sound complex and an essential part of ensuring the survival of our little spotted kiwi.
Follow the project as it unfolds
Check this page and the Trust's newsletter for updates on this project, as the work is done to ensure its success.