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DOC, Mitre 10 Lead Way Forward for Our Takahe

September 10, 2008

By MILNE, Amy

SOME of Southland’s unique locals are the large, flightless birds found in the wild only in the Murchison Mountains of Fiordland.

Takahe were considered extinct until the late Dr Geoffery Orbell rediscovered them in 1948.

Since 1983, the Department of Conservation has been involved in managing takahe that live within the Te Anau Wildlife Park in an attempt to boost the birds’ recovery.

The department’s takahe programme manager Phil Tisch said to support breeding in the wild, artificial incubation of eggs and rearing of chicks was carried out at the Burwood Bush rearing unit in Te Anau.

“Chicks are reared with minimal human contact. To avoid human imprinting they are fed using puppets and models. Some of these captive-reared birds have been used to establish backup populations on offshore islands. Others have been returned to the Murchison Mountains to boost the wild population,” Mr Tisch said.

“It is hoped that one day the takahe population will spill outside their restricted tussock grasslands in the Murchison Mountains, giving trampers glimpses of this extraordinary bird.” Supporting the recovery of takahe has also involved developing methods to control deer, which destroy takahe habitat and compete for food, as well as stoat predation.

“This has led a planned extension of stoat trapping to cover the entire Murchison Mountains and will be the largest stoat control operation in New Zealand.” The Department of Conservation, through its recovery programme, is increasing the protected area for the birds so future generations can also get to appreciate these New Zealand natives.

Mitre 10 has been helping the recovery effort since 2005 through its Takahe Rescue programme.

The programme was initiated by Southland local, Sophie Smith.

As a 10-year-old Sophie asked Mitre 10 to help finance a fence and building materials. Her request grew into something much bigger.

Today DOC, with the ongoing assistance of Mitre 10, is bringing back these locals.

For more information visit www.doc.govt.nz amy.milne@stl.co.nz WHAT’S ON Kakapo encounter What: Meet Sirocco, one of the 91 kakapo left in the world, with the help of the Ulva Island Trust.

When: Every evening from Monday, September 8, to Wednesday, October 22.

Where: Ulva Island, Stewart Island.

How: Stewart Island Ferry’s and Stewart Island Flights are offering discounted fares from Invercargill to Stewart Island for those attending the viewing.

Adult ferry fares will be $86 return and children will be $43 return. Adult flight fares will be $155 return.

Bookings to see Sirocco are essential and cost $90 per adult and $50 children 5-14 years.

Who: Contact the Stewart Island Visitor Information Centre 2191400 or email stewartisland@iSITE.org A talk by one of New Zealand’s most renowned naturalist photographers What: Hosted by Southland Forest and Bird, Craig Potton will speak about the images he has taken over the years and share his experiences.

When: 7.30pm, Tuesday, September 9 Where: Hansen Hall, Southern Institute of Technology How: Free, just contact Chris Rance for more information 2131161 WHERE IS IT? The Te Anau Wildlife Park is on the shores of Lake Te Anau, 10 minutes’ walk from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.

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(c) 2008 Southland Times, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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