Successful saddleback relocation offers hope

By Sam Hurley

A previously rare and endangered New Zealand bird has returned to its former home in Cape Kidnappers, after leaving over 100 years ago.

One hundred and twenty saddlebacks, or tieke, have been relocated to Hawke's Bay in the last week from Repanga, also known as Cuvier Island, a wildlife sanctuary off the coast of the Coromandel peninsula.

Co-manager at the Cape Sanctuary Kahori Nakagawa said the landowners, iwi, and local community of Cape Sanctuary are very passionate about re-establishing the saddleback.

"At this stage our pest control has got to the stage where there are a low level of predators for saddlebacks in the area.

"A large number of the birds have been transported so that it will ensure they will survive the first breeding cycle."

Conservationists know the black and orange bird once existed on Cape Kidnappers because of the numerous bone deposits of the species found in the dune systems.

Ms Nakagawa said the small bird appeared to have a positive future after returning to its former home.

"Hopefully in two to three years the population will be sufficient and in five years it will be completely established."

The bird was threatened by extinction because its breeding behaviour and the fact that it nests near the ground, make it a vulnerable target for predators.

A rescue operation by the New Zealand Wildlife Service, now the Department of Conservation, saved the species from extinction in the 1960s, but the bird had disappeared from the New Zealand mainland.

The bird's population had been carefully looked after by DOC and the recovery of the species and re-introduction to the mainland is considered to be one of New Zealand's greatest conservation successes.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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