Funding doubles for Hawke’s Bay kiwi conservation project

A Hawke’s Bay kiwi conservation project has received a massive shot in the arm through a doubling in funding for one of the region’s most prolific and successful conservation initiatives. The Maungataniwha Kiwi Project, run by the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, has been given $20,000 by Kiwis for kiwi to help boost operations still further.

The extra money will help the Trust catch and monitor more male birds so that the eggs they guard can be retrieved and sent to Kiwi Encounter near Rotorua for incubation. The chicks from these eggs are then released once they are old enough to protect themselves from predators. They are put back into the Maungataniwha Native Forest, and other areas in inland Hawke’s Bay, to boost the population of the ‘Eastern Race’ kiwi region.

“We are immensely grateful to Kiwis for kiwi for this funding,” said Pete Shaw, the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust’s forestry manager. “It’s a vital part of our drive to turn the current two percent a year decline in kiwi numbers into a two percent recovery.”

“The Maungataniwha Kiwi Project is a great investment for us,” said Michelle Impey of Kiwis for kiwi, an independent charity that supports community-led kiwi conservation projects nationally by raising and distributing funds. “They have a great track record of success and consistently contribute in good numbers to Operation Nest Egg, our national egg collection and incubation programme.”

The Trust is about two months into the six-month 2016/2017 kiwi egg collection and incubation season and the signs so far is that it will be a good one. This is despite heavy snow in August which hampered egg collection and made staffers fear for both the eggs in the forest and the adult birds incubating them.

This year it is tracking 35 male birds, 10 more than last year.

Efforts to boost the number of kiwi in the Maungataniwha Native Forest are showing signs of success. Kiwi listening surveys are recording the highest number of calls since record-keeping started about a decade ago and the numbers of rats and stoats are at their lowest. This is due partly to trapping and poisoning and partly to the impact of the severe winter of 2015 which knocked back rat numbers across the country.

“We were poisoning rats at about the same time as their food ran out,” Mr Shaw said. “This knocked them for six and, with very few rats about, the stoats took a massive hit too.”