Despite more than 22 years of intensive pest control, the Manawahe kokako population will die out by 2020. This dire prediction by the National Kokako Specialist Group prompted our tiny trust, the Manawahe Kokako Trust to apply to the Department of Conservation for a translocation of birds. After months of meetings, form filling and navigating our way through layers of bureaucracy, we have finally received the go ahead. It has to be done by the 31st August, this year.
A short history:
In 1997, a handful of kokako were discovered hanging on to life in a small area of bush covering three private properties in Manawahe in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. A group of dedicated bird nerds formed a trust and started intensive pest control to remove possums and rats to allow the birds to breed without fear of predation. It was extremely successful and within 10 years the kokako numbers more than tripled. Then, inexplicably they began to decline. Today we are almost down to the numbers we started with and we don’t know why, a heartbreaking turn of events for the people who have put 22 years of hard work into saving these birds.
There has been no let up in pest control. We still drop poison every breeding season and have added 70 mustelid traps to catch stoats, weasels and ferrets.
Because we started with such a small population, a genetic bottleneck is suspected and the only way to combat it is to introduce genetic diversity. Hence, the translocation application.
We are going to move six kokako from the Kaharoa Forest, about 60 kilometers west of us, to our patch of bush. With luck they will settle in time to breed this season and their progeny will catch the eye of our birds and give the local population a much needed boost. I’ll keep you posted.
Read more about kokako and the Manawahe Kokako Trust.
A Song for a Saturday Morning – A short history of the Manawahe Kokako Trust.
http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/north-island-kokako to find out about kokako and hear their song.
http://www.kokako.org.nz/ – Kaharoa Kokako Trust’s website. Their story is inspiring.
https://www.halowhakatane.org.nz/ – Halo Whakatane’s website. They are an umbrella group that our Trust is affiliated to. Read about 2 of our champions, Ken & Sue.