Kiwi conservation data suggests kiwi are not great travellers
38 adult birds have been found by specially-trained dogs since 2015. Of these, 22 were not microchipped.
The Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme run by the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT) is one of the most prolific and successful kiwi conservation initiatives in the country and part of the national kiwi breeding programme known as Operation Nest Egg. Adult male kiwi are fitted with radio transmitters to enable volunteers to retrieve their eggs, which are then taken for artificial incubation. The resulting chicks are raised in a special crèche or captive facility until they are large enough to fend for themselves in the wild.
Ms Ward-Smith said the high proportion of unchipped kiwi being captured was exciting because it demonstrated conclusively that Operation Nest Egg helps to grow a population of kiwi in places where numbers were previously in decline. It also shows that a good number of kiwi are surviving naturally.
Also of interest to the FLRT team is that the capture work has revealed that kiwi may not be particularly adventurous; none of the juveniles returned to the forest over the past 11 years have ventured further than a few kilometres beyond their release points.
Ms Ward-Smith said the Trust would be capturing kiwi for Operation Nest Egg on a neighbouring property many kilometres distant in the next 12 to 18 months.
She said it had been interesting to plot known kiwi locations on the map and see how the available ‘territory space’ at Maungataniwha is filling up. This was what the Trust would expect to happen when kiwi are surviving and the population growing.