Fifteen takahe birds were flown into the Kahurangi National Park last week as part of an ongoing programme to establish new populations in the wild.

The birds travelled by Air New Zealand on a flight from Invercargill to Nelson as part of the airline’s partnership with DOC.

“The 15 takahe joining the population are between one and two years old and, being younger, may adjust more readily to the new wild home, says DOC’s Takahe Recovery Programme operations manager, Deidre Vercoe.

Thirty takahe were released by DOC in Kahurangi in 2018 but last year the population had a significant setback with 11 of them dying. Some due to natural causes.

“It was a tough year for the Kahurangi takahe in 2020 and it was disappointing to lose 11 birds,” says Deidre.

“The takahe that died from natural causes had low body weights, suggesting they weren’t getting enough food during winter. They were older birds that may have struggled to adapt to a new environment. The 15 birds we’ve continued to monitor are younger and were a healthy weight when checked in September.

“It’s challenging establishing new wild populations of a native species but ultimately the conservation goal is to return them to living naturally in the wild. What we learn from monitoring the wild takahe informs our selection of other sites for takahe and how we establish and manage wild populations.”

The Takahe Recovery Team is continuing research into measures to reduce 1080 risk to takahe after three of the takahe deaths were caused by it following an aerial predator control operation.

No rats or stoats have been detected which has helped protect other threatened species. Further aerial predator control is not expected to be needed in the area for several years.

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