The flightless takahē is a unique bird, a conservation icon and a survivor. The takahē was once thought to be extinct, but was rediscovered in 1948. Even today, despite years of conservation effort, the takahē remains critically endangered.
The Department of Conservation Takahē Recovery Programme in partnership with Mitre10 Takahē Rescue is committed to ensuring the survival, growth and security of takahē populations throughout New Zealand…
Rising Numbers May Not Be Enough to Save Tigers and Kiwis
by Traci Watson
The little spotted kiwi is a shy worm-eater so small it can be cradled in a child’s arms. The Bengal tiger is a 220-kilogram predator that shouldn’t be cradled in anyone’s arms. But new research shows the cuddly bird and the powerful feline share an unfortunate fate: Though their numbers have stabilized or are even rising, some populations are suffering from profound genetic isolation or loss of genetic diversity—enough in some cases to leave them deeply vulnerable to new diseases and other threats.
Taken together, the findings demonstrate that “just because population sizes of threatened species have recovered doesn’t mean that they are okay,” writes Richard Frankham, a professor emeritus at Macquarie University in Australia and an author of several conservation-genetics textbooks who was not involved with the work, in an e-mail. “Genetic management of fragmented animal and plant populations is one of the most important, largely ignored issues in conservation biology.”…
Also known as the Fiordland penguin or the Tawaki, the Fiordland crested penguin is a species of crested penguin found along the Fiordland coast of New Zealand and Stewart Island. Like other penguins the Fiordland penguin is mainly pelagic and will spend long times at sea feeding on squid, fish and crustaceans, which are usually caught near the shore. During the breeding season Fiordland crested penguins will build their nests in coastal temperate forests, one penguin will tend to the nest and guard its chick while the other will go out and catch food. Once the young is old enough its guardian will leave to hunt as well, and after the chick molts it will leave the nest and move on out to sea. Currently the Fiordland crested penguin is listed as vulnerable as its threatened by introduced predators like dogs and cats.
The Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata) is a large goose-like duck endemic to New Zealand.
Uncommon prior to European settlement, populations of this prized game bird have increased considerably due to habitat changes and deliberate provisioning on ponds by duck hunters. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Māori hunted Paradise Shelducks, but overexploitation of smaller duck populations was prevented by a taboo on hunting during the breeding season.
…is a species of weta once found throughout New Zealand but is now only found on Little Barrier Island. Like most giant wetas this species is a nocturnal herbivore and has a diet of leaves, fungi and small invertebrates. But unlike other wetas this species is not social and pretty passive, despite its genus name meaning ‘terrible grasshopper’. The only thing terrible about them is their weight, as they are the heaviest of all giant wetas with one specimen reported weighing 71g that’s 3x heavier than a house mouse!
The famous flightless bird of New Zealand, the moa were enormous avians — some of which stretched more than 3.5 m from toe to beak — and were the dominant herbivores in the land down under the land down under until the Maori hunted them to extinction around 1400 A.D.
Before the arrival of man, though, moas feared another predator: the incredible Haast’s Eagle. The largest known raptor to have ever lived, Haast’s Eagles would soar with their 3-m wingspans and then dive down on poor moas at speeds up to 80 km/hr. The predatory birds went extinct when their major food source — moas — was obliterated.
While it may look like a lizard, this species of reptile is actually one of the sole surviving members of a clade of reptiles that lived 200 million years ago. As you might of guessed by its name this living fossil can only be found on Brothers Island off of New Zealand. This tuatara species is a nocturnal hunter emerging from its burrow at night to feed on small invertebrates, eggs and even small birds. A special movement of its jaw allows them to eat their bony prey quite easily. Reproduction in this species is very competitive as females only reproduce once every 2-5 years. And as such males go through brutal fights with each-other to get a chance to mate.