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Little Spotted Kiwis To Return Home

20 Little Spotted Kiwis are to be released into an Auckland wildlife sanctuary.

Ten male and ten female Little Spotted Kiwis (Apteryx owenii) from Kapiti Island will be released in Northern New Zealand. The 20 Kiwis will be released into Shakespear Open Sanctuary, a 2-square mile (500 hectare) reserve that has been devoid of invasive predators for the past five years.

This translocation of the Little Spotted Kiwi was encouraged primarily by the successful reintegration of the Northern Brown Kiwi into the Hunua Ranges near Auckland; this success is owed in part to invasive predator removal. Before they are released, the Little Spotted Kiwi will first participate in pōwhiri, a customary Māori welcoming ceremony that unites visitors with the land and its native people.

The city of Auckland is committed to reestablishing a lasting Kiwi population. Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff states:

Reintroducing Little Spotted Kiwi to Shakespear is part of a multi-site programme undertaken by Auckland Council.

Translocations of at-risk species such as the Little Spotted Kiwi can help establish stable populations by introducing genetic diversity and increasing the size of the population. The more genetically diverse a population is, the more resilient it will be to forces such as natural disasters, disease, or anthropogenic events such as the introduction of invasive species or deforestation.

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Juvenile Little Spotted Kiwi. Credit: Kimberley Collins

The Little Spotted Kiwi is the second-rarest kiwi species but was declared Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 due to increasing population trends that are a direct result of translocations throughout New Zealand. The Little Spotted Kiwi was threatened by introduced domestic species and invasive stoats, which diminished the majority of the populations on the mainland. The Little Spotted Kiwis still thrived on predator-free islands off the coast. The combination of invasive species control on the mainland, monitoring of predator-free habitats on islands, and establishment of Kiwi wildlife sanctuaries has contributed to the increase in Little Spotted Kiwi populations.

If the translocation event is successful, the Auckland Council will introduce an additional 20 Little Spotted Kiwis within the next few years, and will continue to do so until the population achieves sufficient genetic resilience.

Featured photo: Zealandia
Source: News Hub

About Dylan Meek

Dylan Meek is an undergraduate student at UCSC pursuing a major in marine biology. During her time as a student, she has become interested in conservation, and hopes to pursue a career in wildlife conservation. She has been enamored with nature her whole life, and enjoys spending her free time outdoors or in the ocean.

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