THE KIWI PROJECT
From discovery to recovery
It's what you do when you find Kiwi on your hunting block
The breeding age goal
The birds were all old; previous chicks had been killed by predators, primarily stoats. Although mature Kiwi are large enough to defend themselves against stoats, in the wild only around 5% of Kiwi chicks make it to breeding age. By retrieving the eggs of the wild Kiwi in the forests, and with the help of BNZ Operation Nest Egg which hatches and raises the chicks, around 70% of Kiwi released back on Simon's land survive to breed.
Tracking down breeding birds
Young Kiwi are released into the bush without transmitters. Catching the adult kiwis is no mean feat in dense bush and inhospitable terrain. Once the adult birds are found transmitters are attached to the males, who do all the egg duty. This helps the team when eggs are ready to be collected, then carefully transported in temperature controlled containers to the BNZ Operation Nest Egg hatchery.
A delicate operation
The eggs are very delicate. Even turning them over or the slightest shake can be harmful to the developing chick. Getting the eggs safely from the forest to the hatchery is a long trip – around six hours by road. Sometimes the move is done by helicopter, taking just one hour and avoiding the dangers caused by bumpy roads.
Re-populating the forest
The complex tasks at the Kiwi Encounter hatchery are undertaken by a group of passionate and highly skilled staff. (You can read all about the work of hatching and rearing Kiwi at the BNZ Operation Nest Egg website). Once the Kiwi are large enough they are brought back to the forest and released into the wild. The operation has been so successful that in February 2012 Rachel Hunter, patron of The trust,released the 100th kiwi chick back into the forest at Maungataniwha.