Takahe hatched and reared by two mums on Motutapu Island

Takahe were once widespread throughout New Zealand but have been brought to the brink of extinction by predators. Photo / Jason Dorday
Takahe were once widespread throughout New Zealand but have been brought to the brink of extinction by predators. Photo / Jason Dorday

An endangered takahe chick is relishing extra love and attention after being hatched and reared by two mums.

The chick was hatched on pest-free Motutapu Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, which now hosts a takahe population of 283 -- including 20 adults -- and is becoming a key breeding site for the critically endangered native bird.

Takahe usually breed as pairs but sometimes form extended family groups to hatch and raise chicks. The chick on Motutapu was hatched and is being raised by two female takahe -- Charlie and Emelius -- and a male called Bradshaw.

Takahe chicks are dependent on their parents for at least a year. Their peak breeding age is 5 to 14 and they can live till 20 years of age.

"We're thrilled to see a takahe chick hatched and faring well on Motutapu," said Department of Conservation takahe recovery group manager Deidre Vercoe.

"This is a tribute to our work with the Motutapu Restoration Trust, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngai Tahu and Mitre 10 to build a breeding population of takahe on the island.

"This is a key part of our programme to secure the survival of this unique New Zealand bird."

Motutapu Restoration Trust chairman Brett Butland said the programme had seven breeding groups of takahe on the island.

"All of them sat on nests this breeding season. One breeding group has hatched and is successfully raising a chick. It's fantastic to see these special birds making the island their home."

Ngai Tai ki Tamaki Tribal Trust chairman James Brown said the island played a vital role in the takahe recovery programme.

"Removing stoats and other predators has created a sanctuary that is enabling this taonga to thrive on the island."

The first takahe were released on Motutapu on August 27, 2011, when the island and Rangitoto, which are connected by a short land bridge, were declared a pest-free sanctuary.

Takahe were once widespread throughout New Zealand but have been brought to the brink of extinction by predators -- particularly stoats -- and the destruction of their habitat.

- NZ Herald

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