The vision for the future is of a thriving kiwi population, where this taonga species can roam safely throughout the Piroa ranges and is cared for by the local people. Kiwi formerly lived in the Piroa area, but were locally extinct (Pierce, 2010) until 2013 to 2015 when 43 Northland brown kiwi were translocated to Marunui, a 423ha property, northwest of Mangawhai village. In 2020, 6 more birds were translocated bringing the total to 49 total birds released. Since then indications are that some of the kiwi population has dispersed in the Piroa-Brynderwyn ranges. Currently no birds in the area are fitted with transmitters. Aside from annual kiwi call counts in some locations, anecdotal evidence, stories of birds monitored with transmitters after initial release, recent video footage of birds at Marunui, and 2 deceased birds discovered in Waipu Forest, a comprehensive picture of where kiwi are now established and how many there are is incomplete. This survey is the first phase in gaining a greater understanding of that picture.
On November 13th a group of keen conservationists gathered to learn from Dr Dai Morgan from NRC about monitoring native bird species and density in the ranges. The work is important as over time this will provide evidence around the impact our groups’ pest control programmes are having, and what new species are returning to the area.
Over the past couple of years, the group has noticed more species comfortably residing in the areas where rats, possums and mustelid are controlled.
2 years ago, Bream Tail Farm saw breeding kiwi return and more recently bellbird and kaka - all three species- are now recorded regularly on the property. Over the road at Waorahi Conservation Estate bellbirds have returned and other native species are growing in numbers, but the Marunui Conservation estate continues to be the hub for kiwi conservation in the area along with other species such tomtit, bellbird, grey warbler, ruru, kererū, pīwakawaka, fernbird, and shining cuckoo.
With other landowners joining the journey, and the 3 large DOC reserves in the ranges now part of the pest control programme, the group expects to see broader spread of native birds - given there is increased safe habitat to reside.
The team of 20 local volunteers will now monitor key bush sites to track and record a collection of key native species. Some of the volunteers will also be working with the local schools to train the students to assist and be involved as part of their conservation curriculum.
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