Kiwi conservation secrets are being lent to Australia to help protect one of the world's rarest birds from extinction.
The Norfolk Island green parrot has twice come close to extinction but it's hoped a new initiative will pull the bird back from the brink for good.
In 2013 the green parrot population was estimated at less than 100 birds. Massey University then decided to get involved, taking New Zealand conservation methods over with him to help battle decimation from black rats and feral cats. Recent surveys indicate there is now between 350 and 400 birds.
Massey researchers are now involved again, working with two Australian organisations to create an insurance colony of the birds so that if the small numbers on Norfolk Island were to get wiped out - a tiny Australian island roughly 750km from Cape Reinga - a small offshoot would survive on Phillip Island, close to the mainland off the Victorian coast.
However, timing is critical. With the project needing to be done before winter kicks in, Norfolk Island National Park, conservation group BirdLife Australia and Massey University have teamed up to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise $83,000 to help get the project off the ground.
Massey University conservation biology expert Dr Luis Ortiz-Categral said the developed sites were adapted from best-practice models in New Zealand with closely-related parakeet species.
"Norfolk Island green parrots have flirted with extinction on many occasions, but have shown a remarkable resilience to survive and are now actively bucking a trend that had seen their numbers decline. This is no small feat, only possible thanks to the alliances with multiple-agencies that Parks Australia has developed over the years," Ortiz-Categral said.
Since 2013, Ortiz-Categral has developed training sessions with Norfolk Island National Park staff specifically on procedures for population monitoring, nest monitoring, radio-tracking and interpretation of field data.
"The move to Phillip Island is another vital step ensuring these beautiful birds have the best possible chance of population recovery," he said.
Norfolk Island National Park manager Craig Doolan said these nest sites, developed with support from Massey researchers, were the cornerstone of an amazing recovery that's seen parrot numbers more than quadruple.
"Now we've got a chance between April and June to move about 30 fledgling green parrots to Phillip Island to create an insurance population," Doolan said.
BirdLife Australia chief executive Paul Sullivan said there was a small window of opportunity to move the fledgling population of endangered green parrots to this safe haven.
"This species has not once, but twice, been on the brink of extinction in my lifetime," Sullivan said. "This is a remarkable story of determination, cooperation and great science to ensure the survival of a wonderful and very rare bird."
So far the crowdfunding effort has raised over $57,000 of the $83,000 target. The call for donations closes on Saturday March 18. To make a contribution go to: http://pozible.com/project/operation-green-parrot