Whinray Trust funding boost for kiwi

CUTE KIWI: Comet the kiwi is one of 30 in the Whinray Reserve in Motu. The 15 breeding pairs are likely producing at least 30 chicks a year, with the reserve acting as a “kohanga kiwi” for the greater region. Picture by Steve Sawyer
CARING FOR KIWI: Brian Wright from Ecoworks helps out with kiwi work in Motu. Here he is holding a bird named Comet. Picture by Steve Sawyer
Whinray Reserve

WHINRAY Reserve’s kiwi kohanga has received a further boost to its goal of reestablishing the kiwi population in the region.

The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust received a $5,460 grant from the Kiwis for kiwi Trust to buy transmitters for tracking and monitoring eastern brown kiwi in Whinray Reserve.

Whinray trustee Steve Sawyer said there were 15 pairs of birds inside the reserve and at least 50 more birds in the greater Motu Valley area.

This was an increase from eight in the 1990s when the Department of Conservation did kiwi surveys in Whinray Reserve.

The kiwi are part of an estimated 7000 eastern brown kiwi left in eastern New Zealand.

“The pairs within the reserve are likely to be producing more than 30 chicks a year, and most of these chicks will be wandering off into the Raukumara Forest Park and Urutawa Conservation area,” Mr Sawyer said.

“This is great as the reserve is acting as a ‘kohanga kiwi’ producing a supply of chicks each year into the greater Motu Ecological District.”

Kiwi can range over 20 kilometres from their parent’s territory in just a few weeks to find their own space.

“We think they will live 50-plus years and have a territory 30 to 50 hectares.”

Kiwis for kiwi funding

The Kiwis for kiwi funding is part of about $40,000 the Whinray Trust raises each year to keep trappers and bait supply going to protect kiwi.

The trust is supported by the Department of Conservation Gisborne and Wellington branches with pest control and maintenance in the reserve.

“This work has had advantages for a number of species such as rifleman, robins and kakariki, as it is providing protection for them also,” Mr Sawyer said.

“We get massive support from the local Motu community being able to form a pest control ‘halo’ to trap stoats and feral cats on surrounding farmland.

“Thanks to the support of local farmers we have been able to control many of the predators before they get to the Whinray Reserve and near our kiwi.”

In 2014 the Whinray Trust initiated a campaign to target ship rats and possums.

“We estimate we have taken about 6000 rats out of Whinray and nearly 3000 possums,” Mr Sawyer said.

“A ship rat population can reach 10 to 20 rats per hectare in podocarp forest at this altitude, which equates to more than 8000 ship rats in Whinray if left unchecked.

“They are climbing rats and eat every bird’s egg, chick, flower, fruit and seed they can find. So controlling rats and possums makes a huge difference for the reserve.”

Rata in flower

Mature rata flowered for the first time in years and they have found a range of new species in the reserve, such as forest gecko and yellow-crowned kakariki.

They have also started red deer control and a contract hunter has removed more than 60 deer.

“The forest regeneration already is astounding, with hen and chicken ferns, putaputaweta, kanono and pate all regenerating rapidly.

“Sixty deer eat more than 120 metric tonnes of dry matter per year, so this is a lot of plant material now being left within the reserve.”

Stoats are the biggest threat preying on kiwi chicks, so the Whinray Trust uses a predator-fenced site, Motu Kiwi Creche, to protect the chicks.

The grant is part of more than $500,000 distributed to conservation projects throughout New Zealand by charity Kiwis for kiwi during October, Save Kiwi Month.

Kiwis for kiwi executive director Michelle Impey said Save Kiwi Month was a great time to celebrate the efforts of community-led kiwi protection projects, many of which had been working for decades to create safe areas for kiwi to live and breed.

“These grants are critical for the ongoing efforts of those at the coalface of kiwi conservation and we need to support these people if we are going to reach our goal of reversing the two percent decline of all four regional populations of North Island brown kiwi by 2025.

“We know that where work is being done to manage kiwi habitats, kiwi numbers are growing.”

The funds are contributing to predator control, Operation Nest Egg, translocations, advocacy, administration and avoidance training for dogs.

WHINRAY Reserve’s kiwi kohanga has received a further boost to its goal of reestablishing the kiwi population in the region.

The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust received a $5,460 grant from the Kiwis for kiwi Trust to buy transmitters for tracking and monitoring eastern brown kiwi in Whinray Reserve.

Whinray trustee Steve Sawyer said there were 15 pairs of birds inside the reserve and at least 50 more birds in the greater Motu Valley area.

This was an increase from eight in the 1990s when the Department of Conservation did kiwi surveys in Whinray Reserve.

The kiwi are part of an estimated 7000 eastern brown kiwi left in eastern New Zealand.

“The pairs within the reserve are likely to be producing more than 30 chicks a year, and most of these chicks will be wandering off into the Raukumara Forest Park and Urutawa Conservation area,” Mr Sawyer said.

“This is great as the reserve is acting as a ‘kohanga kiwi’ producing a supply of chicks each year into the greater Motu Ecological District.”

Kiwi can range over 20 kilometres from their parent’s territory in just a few weeks to find their own space.

“We think they will live 50-plus years and have a territory 30 to 50 hectares.”

Kiwis for kiwi funding

The Kiwis for kiwi funding is part of about $40,000 the Whinray Trust raises each year to keep trappers and bait supply going to protect kiwi.

The trust is supported by the Department of Conservation Gisborne and Wellington branches with pest control and maintenance in the reserve.

“This work has had advantages for a number of species such as rifleman, robins and kakariki, as it is providing protection for them also,” Mr Sawyer said.

“We get massive support from the local Motu community being able to form a pest control ‘halo’ to trap stoats and feral cats on surrounding farmland.

“Thanks to the support of local farmers we have been able to control many of the predators before they get to the Whinray Reserve and near our kiwi.”

In 2014 the Whinray Trust initiated a campaign to target ship rats and possums.

“We estimate we have taken about 6000 rats out of Whinray and nearly 3000 possums,” Mr Sawyer said.

“A ship rat population can reach 10 to 20 rats per hectare in podocarp forest at this altitude, which equates to more than 8000 ship rats in Whinray if left unchecked.

“They are climbing rats and eat every bird’s egg, chick, flower, fruit and seed they can find. So controlling rats and possums makes a huge difference for the reserve.”

Rata in flower

Mature rata flowered for the first time in years and they have found a range of new species in the reserve, such as forest gecko and yellow-crowned kakariki.

They have also started red deer control and a contract hunter has removed more than 60 deer.

“The forest regeneration already is astounding, with hen and chicken ferns, putaputaweta, kanono and pate all regenerating rapidly.

“Sixty deer eat more than 120 metric tonnes of dry matter per year, so this is a lot of plant material now being left within the reserve.”

Stoats are the biggest threat preying on kiwi chicks, so the Whinray Trust uses a predator-fenced site, Motu Kiwi Creche, to protect the chicks.

The grant is part of more than $500,000 distributed to conservation projects throughout New Zealand by charity Kiwis for kiwi during October, Save Kiwi Month.

Kiwis for kiwi executive director Michelle Impey said Save Kiwi Month was a great time to celebrate the efforts of community-led kiwi protection projects, many of which had been working for decades to create safe areas for kiwi to live and breed.

“These grants are critical for the ongoing efforts of those at the coalface of kiwi conservation and we need to support these people if we are going to reach our goal of reversing the two percent decline of all four regional populations of North Island brown kiwi by 2025.

“We know that where work is being done to manage kiwi habitats, kiwi numbers are growing.”

The funds are contributing to predator control, Operation Nest Egg, translocations, advocacy, administration and avoidance training for dogs.

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