Trust Lifts More Kiwi Eggs Than Ever In First Half Of ‘bumper’ Nesting Season

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust looks likely to set fresh records for its Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme following delivery of 54 viable eggs to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua in the first half of the 2021/2022 season. It still has two more ‘first clutch’ eggs to retrieve so it is possible that its ‘half time score’ will grow to 56.

Earlier this year it completed the return of a record 53 juvenile kiwi to the bush as part of its work with Operation Nest Egg, the nationwide kiwi recovery initiative that removes kiwi eggs from their burrows, incubates them and cares for the chicks in captivity until they’re big enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

Traditionally, fewer eggs are retrieved in the back half of the egg-lifting season. These are known as ‘second clutch’ eggs. But there are already signs that the second half of the 2021/2022 egg-lifting season at the Trust’s property in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in Hawke’s Bay will also be strong.

Trust staffer and ‘kiwi whisperer’ Barry Crene said he had retrieved three eggs from two second-clutch nests. This is, he says, a promising start although he will never “count my kiwi before they’re hatched.”

“That said, we have every reason to believe that the final number of juvenile kiwi returned to the forest at the end of the 2021/2022 season will beat last year’s record by a significant margin.”

The Trust has increased by eight the number of kiwi it is monitoring this season but only four of these have nested. It has invested significantly in, and put much effort into, catching and radio-tagging new kiwi at Maungataniwha and now has 61 ‘tagged’ kiwi there.

It achieved self-sustaining kiwi population levels at Maungataniwha in 2017 and has since been using juveniles taken from there to stock its second property, Pohokura, mid-way between Taupo and Napier. It aims to release up to 200 kiwi there by 2024. The first, the 300th bird resulting from the trust’s conservation work, was released in 2019.

Re-establishing kiwi at Pohokura supports the long-term goal of the national Kiwi Recovery Plan; to reach 100,000 kiwi by 2030 through growing populations of all kiwi species by at least two percent a year, restoring them to their former distribution and maintaining their genetic diversity.


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