An audio recording from the Grey Valley is among 50 reports of possible encounters with the South Island kokako, previously thought to be extinct, following the offer of a $5000 reward.
Founding trustee of the South Island Kokako Trust, Ron Nilsson, a long-standing kokako enthusiast who worked with the Wildlife Service and later Department of Conservation, has been following up the reports and is excited about a number of them.
"We have a very promising sound recording from a search just last month, but we are still looking for photographic proof," Mr Nilsson said.
The Grey Valley recording was made in native bush on March 24, in the Granville ecological area south of Ikamatua.
The trust offered the reward in January.
"Many of these encounters are new to us or they corroborate earlier reports in a number of areas. We need back-country users to be looking for evidence that this bird is still alive, but it's hard to advise where best to be looking as these very credible reports extend the length of the South Island."
Although the recent reports span around three decades, Mr Nilsson said the best and most recent reports of encounters were from Fiordland, South Westland, the Grey Valley, Marlborough Sounds and Heaphy Track.
Other reports from the Catlins, Nelson Lakes, Lake Hawea and Otira areas were also strong but not so recent.
Trust manager Inger Perkins, of Hokitika, said would-be searchers could look at the map of possible encounters on the trust website (www.southislandkokako.org) and if they were planning a trip into those areas to get in touch in case more detailed information was available.
"We still need definitive evidence and with compelling reports from such a wide range of locations from the top to the bottom of the South Island, we are optimistic that proof will be found soon," Perkins said.
"The outdoors beckons and I'd encourage everyone to be familiar with the sound and appearance of this precious bird and to carry a camera when out in our native forests."
The Grey Valley sound recording (remastered to remove background sounds) is available on the Greymouth Star website www.greystar.co.nz.
- Greymouth Star