BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 15

Landscape-scale predator control will be taken to a new level, particularly for species in the South Island, where kiwi populations are often dispersed across vast areas of rugged terrain, and only a small proportion of kiwi currently receive any form of management. The plan also proposes to expand kiwi management on the back of the government’s proposal to make all of New Zealand predator- free by 2050. Since New Zealand pioneered the technology in the early 1960s, invasive species eradication operations have grown at an exponential rate. Because of the significant growth of knowledge around pest control over the past decade – much of it coming out of TOP Northern Brown Kiwi Photo Neil Hutton Okarito Kiwi Photo Grant Maslowski 4 Okarito Kiwi egg Grant Maslowski 7 Northern Brown Kiwi Photo Neil Hutton 1 kiwi recovery research – it is predicted that this exponential trend will continue. The predator-free initiative has nationwide support and has been enthusiastically adopted by community conservation groups, local Māori communities, philanthropists and others further afield. In both scale and breadth, kiwi recovery is one of the most unique and successful conservation partnerships in New Zealand. The Kiwi Recovery Group has expanded from only three original members to include Māori, captive management practitioners, independent researchers and community representatives. It doesn’t just create the Recovery Plans: it also provides regular expert advice to the Department of Conservation and field conservationists on how to put them into action. Work stretches from the top of Northland to Stewart Island (Rakiura) in the south, with active participation from hundreds of diverse stakeholders. And it benefits all kiwi species. Over the last 26 years, the decline of New Zealand’s three most threatened species – Okarito, Southern Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis (Vulnerable), and Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii (Near Threatened) – has halted or reversed. So when the next Red List is published, there is every chance that the threat status of all five kiwi species will enjoy a positive upgrade. This beloved and iconic bird has been the catalyst for advances in technology and habitat recovery that have benefited the whole of New Zealand’s ecology. It’s time for New Zealand’s honorary dinosaur to look towards the future. Jan-Mar 2018 • birdlife 15