Four North Island Brown kiwi from the Bay of Plenty swapped homes yesterday for the sake of deepening the kiwi gene-pool.
Two young males and two young females from the Whirinaki Forest Park set off for their new home in the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust’s Maungataniwha Native Forest in Hawke’s Bay, and were replaced by four birds from there.
Bay of Plenty kiwi moving homes.
The transfer will boost the genetic diversity in the Bay – an important factor as the eight swapped birds are the offspring of fewer than 15 breeding pairs, with most coming from just a few good breeders.
Department of Conservation protected species ranger Sarah King says without the human-induced genetic dispersal, in-breeding may eventually result.
“This would lead to reduced health among the birds and the potential for populations to fall victim to disease, which in turn could have catastrophic results.”
Sarah says it is important to preserve the genetic purity of kiwi by only moving birds within their taxa range, ensuring genetic traits evolved by eastern kiwi would remain in the population.
Although in different provinces, the Whirinaki and Maungataniwha forests are about 25km apart and both within the eastern North Island brown kiwi taxa area.
FLR Trust chairman Simon Hall says the swap demonstrates clearly the highly inter-connected nature of the thing that kiwi conservation has become.
“It’s a model that we hope to apply to other endangered birds, such as kokako.”