Takahē in the Wild (Recovery Sites)

What is a recovery site?

The Murchison Mountains, the last refuge of takahē in the wild, is the only recovery site in the Takahē Recovery Programme.  A recovery site is a large area containing the necessities for a natural life – if you are a takahē.

This means;

  • It is made up of native grasslands, scrub and forest edge typical of where takahē once lived.
  • Predators are controlled to very low numbers
  • The takahē population is, or is moving toward being self-sustaining.

 

Monitoring the takahē

Takahē at a Recovery Site are monitored to make sure predator control is sufficient to protect the takahe and to provide information about bird survival and population growth or decline.  Monitoring is undertaken by fitting a portion of the population with transmitters.  In the Murchison Mountains these transmitters are checked quarterly via sky ranger.

 

Controlling predators

As with many New Zealand birds, one of the biggest threats to takahē survival is introduced predators. A feature of the Murchison Mountains is the absence of cats, ferrets or dogs. Unfortunately stoats have invaded the mountains of Fiordland.

The Department of Conservation’s Battle for Our Birds project has allowed the network of stoat traps to be expanded over much of the takahē habitat in the Murchison Mountains to help protect the wild population.

 

Ranger resetting a stoat trap. Photo : Barry Harcourt
Resetting a stoat trap

 

Searching for a new Recovery Site

The Takahē Recovery Programme is searching for a second Recovery Site. We need to find a large area capable of supporting at least 30 pairs of takahē. That’s no easy task when a takahē territory can range from 5 – 60 hectares.

The major barrier to establishing a ‘wild’ population outside the Murchison Mountains is being able to control all introduced predators – cats, stoats, ferrets and weasels – to low levels over a large enough area.

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