kokako reintroductions

Kokako (photo R.Morris) were historically found all over the North and South Islands. There have been no confirmed sightings of the South Island race for many years, but the North Island race survived in less modified areas of forest. Translocations have been to reintroduce kokako to islands where they are assumed to have existed previously (Little Barrier, Kapiti, Tititiri Matangi), to reintroduce kokako to managed mainland islands (Trounson), or to save remnant mainland populations (Hunua, Pikiariki/Pureora). Remnant mainland populations consist largely of old, single males, presumably due to predation of females on nests. Therefore, young females are translocated from healthy, managed populations. There are several further translocations planned to managed mainland areas where kokako have been extinct for several decades.Future translocations may also take into account the genetic health of populations. Contact Ian Flux for information on the whole programme.

Kapiti Island (1965 ha, off SW of North Island). Reintroduction. A total of 32 kokako were released from 1991-1997. These include: 6 birds translocated from Western Waikato forest remnants (Hauturu trig, Osbornes, Te Raumoa), 1991/1992; 2 from Makino Forest (Taranaki) 1993; 5 from Manawahe (Bay of Plenty) 1993; 7 (1 or 2 females) from LBI in 1995 and 1996; 5 (3 male, 2 female) from Mapara to Kapiti in Oct/Nov 1996; and 7 captive-reared kokako (from Mt Bruce, of Northern King Country/Rangitoto stock). There have been no subsequent translocations as of August 2001. In 2000/01, there were 7 breeding pairs and 7 young were fledged which is a particularly successful year for the island. A survey in May 2003 suggested there were > 40 kokako then, including at least 13 pairs.

Trounson Kauri Park (managed mainland area, Northland, North Island). Reintroduction. The area may now be suitable due to a predator control program. 2 adults released in 1994(?). One of these has been seen regularly over the past 5 years. Two further adults released during 1997(?) but moved into neighbouring Marlborough Forest. 2 juveniles from Matarua released Dec/Jan 1999. Contact Nigel Miller.

Tiritiri Matangi Island (220 ha, Hauraki Gulf east of Auckland). Reintroduction. Tiri has undergone a revegetation programme since 1983, and had kiore eradicated in 1993. This reintroduction is part of the Tiritiri Matangi restoration programme. Nevertheless, the island has much less mature forest than other places where kokako persist, so the reintroduction is partially a trial to test their habitat requirements. Two females from Mapara and one male from Mt Bruce were released in August 1997 (one of the females preyed on a few days after release). 4 juvenile males from Mt Bruce released in March 1998. The birds from Mt Bruce were captive bred from North King Country/Rangitoto stock. A female from Mt Bruce (originally from Taranaki) was released in 2000.

Pikiariki. Supplementation. Three (one male, 2 females) from Mapara, August/September

Hunua Range. Supplementation. Four females from Mapara (King country, central North Island) were translocated to the Hunua Ranges in April 1998 to supplement the existing population. 14 further kokako from Mapara were translocated to the Hunuas in August-September 2006 to supplement the existing kokako population, which was thought to consist of about 10 pairs. Calls of Mapara dialect kokako were played over a loudspeaker system at the release site in the hope that this would encourage translocated birds to stay at the site. I don’t know whether birds were released between 1998 and 2006.

Boundary Stream Mainland Island (ca. 800 ha of managed lowland broadleaf-podocarp forest, Hawkes Bay Region, North Island). Reintroduction. Since 1996 introduced predators have been managed, including the principal threats to kokako (possums, rats, mustelids and cats) which are kept at consistently low levels in the reserve. This has been achieved through an initial 1080 application, poisoning using bait stations, and mustelid trapping. BSMI is within the known historic range of the North Island kokako, which was once common in the area but extirpated by the late 1800s. North Island kokako were initially brought into captivity at BSMI in 2001, when 10 birds (5 males, 5 females) from Otamatuna (Te Urewera National Park) were placed in 5 aviaries (14 x 7 x 5 m each, one pair per aviary). The main objective was to release progeny of these pairs after fledging, with the hope that they remain in the managed area and establish a population. The first fledglings were produced when two pairs bred in the 2003/04 breeding season, and these were released in May 2004. It was also decided to release the adults in the hope that the would remain in the area after having been held in captivity for so long, hence the 3 pairs that had never bred were released in February 2004 and the 2 remaining pairs released in August 2004. All released kokako remained within the reserve, although the fate of two males is unknown. 8 fledglings were produced in 2004/05 season, 5 in 2005/06 and 5 in 2006/07. In August-September 2007, a further 10 kokako (5 males, 5 females) were translocated from Otamatuna and released immediately into the reserve. The aim of this follow-up translocation was to increase the genetic diversity of the population. Contact Kahori NakagawaDenise Fastier, or John Adams.

Mt Bruce Reserve (mainland forest reserve adjacent to National Wildlife Centre, Wairarapa). 5 kokako (sexes not yet confirmed) from Mangatutu (Waikato) to Mt. Bruce National Wildlife Centre. These birds will also be kept in aviaries, and offspring released into the adjacent Mount Bruce Reserve which has recently had a predator control program put in place.

Puketi Forest (Northland). Two kokako fledglings were transferred within Northland from Matarau forest to Puketi forest. One died soon after transfer and the second has been wandering widely within Puketi.

Pukaha/Mt Bruce (ca.1000 ha). 6 birds (4 female, 2 male) from Managtutu released 2003. All birds stayed within the forested area. One pair has formed and produced 2 fledglings within four months of trasnfer. Additionally 4 captive birds (2 male, 2 female) held on site at Mt Bruce wildlife Centre were released in winter 2003. An additional two birds (1 male, 1 female) were transferred from Managtutu and released to Pukaha in Sept 2004. It is hoped future releases will even the sex ratio and consist on bird of the same dialect, until 5 pair establish at Pukaha/ Mt Bruce. Yearly monitoring of breeding activity occurs, and post-reelase monitoring of bird survival occurs. Contact Lynn Adams.

Secretary Island (81 km2, Fiordland). In October 2008, 10 North Island kokako from Mapara (managed mainland island near Te Kuiti) were released on Secretary Island. The island would originally have had South Island kokako, which is usually considered a different subspecies and now generally thought to be extinct. This was the first translocation of kokako to the South Island kokako’s former range, so can be considered either a reintroduction of the kokako species, or a “conservation introduction” of the North Island kokako subspecies. Either way it is seen as a component of the ecological restoration of Secretary Island, following the removal of eradication of stoats and deer. The translocation was funded by the Fiordland Lobster Company. Transmitters were attached to 6 birds, 5 of which were still alive in January 2009 and one of which had been killed by a falcon. The plan is to translocate a total of 20 further birds from two other areas in 2009. Contact Megan Willans.

Ark in the Park Waitakere Range (2350 ha of managed mainland centred around Cascade Park, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, plus approx 600 ha of pest control on private property). The Ark in the Park is a community driven open sanctuary Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, close to Auckland City. It is a partnership between Auckland Council and Forest and Bird, supported by Te Kawerau a Maki. The project started in January 2003 and the aim is to allow the restoration of a functioning native ecosystem through intensive pest control and unlike many other mainland sanctuaries there is no predator proof fence. Instead, ongoing pest control (rodents, mustelids, possums and feral cats) by volunteers and staff keeps predator numbers low enough to allow survival and breeding of re-introduced as well as original native birds and other biodiversity. Kokako were present in the Waitakere Ranges until the late 1950s. The reintroduction of kokako into the Ark in the Park is part of their national recovery plan, aiming to create a new self-sustaining population. The kokako Recovery Group considers ten pairs to be required to have a good probability to establish a new population.  A total of 26 kokako were released from 2009-2011. These include: 6 kokako (all fitted with radio transmitters) released in September/November 2009 translocated from Waipapa and Mangatutu Ecological areas, Pureora Forest Park (Central North Island). 2 (with radio transmitters) released in May 2010 from Tiritiri Matangi. 14 (10 released with radio transmitters, 4 without) released in September/October 2010 from Mapara/Tunawae. 4 kokako (all with transmitters) released in September/October 2011, translocated from Waipapa, Pureora Forest Park. For each translocation sound anchoring was used , using dialect of the location of origin or one from a nearby location (as available). In the 2010-11 breeding season two nesting pairs were located and two juvenile fledglings were banded. In addition, a likely third nest and juvenile was produced although the dense vegetation meant that conclusive positive sighting was not possible. In the 2011- 2012 season 16 banded kokako have been identified, with several more birds sighted without identification due to inability to see bands in canopy.  One nest was found and resulted in one fledgling banded. One more fledged juvenile from this season has been seen and at least 2 unbanded juveniles from the 2010-2011 breeding season were observed in addition to the two that were banded. At the time of release in 2009, the Ark pest controlled area within the Regional Park was approx 1200 ha. Kokako settled in an area earmarked for further expansion and 800 ha was hence added in 2010-2011. It became clear that kokako preferred an area close to the SE border of the Ark in the Park and went beyond the predator controlled area. As a result, another 350 ha was added to pest control in 2011-2012. Territory surveys so far confirm that this has been effective in providing the required protection to the newly establishing population. Contact: Maj De

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