Nine juvenile tūturuatu / tchūriwat' / shore plover, hatched in January and raised at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch, were flown to Napier three weeks ago and translocated to Portland (Waikawa) Island.
The translocation was made possible thanks to ongoing efforts by the Department of Conservation and financial support through ongoing partnerships with the New Zealand Nature Fund, the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust and Air New Zealand.
Shore plovers are small, quirky shorebirds unique to New Zealand, with distinctive dark caps on their heads. Their tendency to nest on the ground, as well as their territorial nature, makes them highly susceptible to introduced predators like rats, stoats, and cats.
Their survival relies on captive breeding, translocations to predator-free islands, and island biosecurity.
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With only around 250 individual birds in the world, they have the highest possible threat ranking of "Threatened: Nationally Critical".
Six of the nine juvenile birds (two male, seven female) have parents hatched from the wild eggs translocated from Rangatira / Hokorereoro Island in 2020, so this translocation will add a welcome genetic boost to the Waikawa motu.
DoC Shore Plover Recovery Programme lead and technical advisor ecology Dave Houston, says the efforts of the recovery group are paying off.
"Isaac's have been a key partner with shore plover recovery for the past 18 years and we're extremely grateful for their ongoing support. The shore plover recovery really is a prime example of conservation being a long game.
"Even with the many challenges associated with this work, and a few setbacks along the way, successes like these are well worth celebrating," Houston said.