First endangered birds released on Rotoroa
14th May 2014
Forty tīeke (saddleback) and 40 pōpokotea (whitehead) were flown
from Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier) to Rotoroa Island yesterday (13
May 2014) - the first wildlife species to be introduced to this
unique new wildlife reserve in the making.
The bird translocations follow extensive planting, monitoring
and pest eradication on Rotoroa, and mark the start of an ambitious
25-year plan by Auckland Zoo and the Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT)
that includes introducing up to 20 new species by 2018.
Kiwi, Duvacell's gecko and moko skink are among other wildlife
planned for release later this year.
"Together with our RIT partners, we're taking a very new
approach to creating a wildlife reserve. We're aiming to help
secure New Zealand's unique biodiversity in a way that's a
deliberate departure from what's been done before," says Auckland
Zoo director, Jonathan Wilcken.
"We will be introducing species at a greatly accelerated rate
and including wildlife that wouldn't necessarily have been found on
Rotoroa Island before. In doing so, we aim to create a diverse and
novel ecosystem, and one which will allow us to showcase the sort
of interventionist approach to conserving wildlife that New Zealand
is increasingly becoming known for around the world.
"By demonstrating how intensive management of wildlife can help
with their conservation, we will provide the community - from
school students to island visitors - opportunities to play an
active role in the ongoing health and management of the island.
It's an inclusive vision of conservation success that focuses on
how people and wildlife can benefit each other. We hope to help
foster a whole new generation of conservationists," says Mr
Rotoroa Island Trust chairman Barrie Brown says the arrival of
the birds is a major milestone in the development of Rotoroa.
"It's the first step in introducing a range of native species to
the island and we hope it will be the beginning of a very special
conservation experience for those who come to visit," says Mr
The tīeke and pōpokotea are being released into the northeast of
the island where there is good established forest habitat. Over 500
nest and roost boxes for the tīeke (attached to trees by bungy
cords) have been built by Long Bay College students to provide
these birds with plenty of roosting and nesting site choices and to
cater for future breeding.
Ngati Manuhiri, the kaitiaki (guardians) of all the toanga on
Hauturu o Toi are supportive of this bird translocation, and will
be accompanying the tīeke and pōpokotea to their release site