Believed to have existed since ancient times, the prehistoric Takahe birds of New Zealand have become a success story for conservation. The birds, which were declared extinct in 1898, have now begun to see their numbers surge again, with the recent release of 18 more Takahe birds in Lake Whakatipu Waimaori Valley on New Zealand’s South Island.
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The number of Takahe birds in New Zealand had been drastically reduced after the introduction of cats, ferrets, stoats, and rats by European settlers. However, in 1948, a full 50 years after the Takahe had been declared extinct, conservationists discovered a small population of the birds. Then, conservationists began efforts to regrow this population.
At first, conservationists and researchers focused their efforts on carefully collecting Takahe egg. This was done in an attempt to shield the eggs from predators, and as they hatched, they were fed and nurtured very carefully, with the workers wearing sock puppets that resembled the unique red beaks the Takahe birds sport.
Lovely to see this handsome new takahe couple join @Wellington_NZ predator free bird sanctuary @ZEALANDIA. 3 yr old Waitaa and 6 yr old male Bendigo join takahe Neo and Orbell at the sanctuary, after arriving by air from the Burwood Takahe Breeding Centre in @TeAnauNZ @docgovtnz pic.twitter.com/ODbjdsQPfR
— Wendy Hinton (@HintonWendyNZ) August 29, 2023
These steps played a crucial role in helping to raise the population of the Takahe birds in New Zealand. Today, that population has grown to almost 500, with conservationists still working to increase the number of birds found in the area. The conservationists have also been proactive in reducing predators by trapping ferrets and stoats.
Conservationists believe that a small number of predators is essential to the Takahe bird’s continued growth and flourishing. These unique, flightless birds are known for their round appearance. Conservationists plan to release seven more Takahe birds this October and ten others early next year.
How well these birds continue to do will rely heavily on the conservationists remaining vigilant, and the decades of dedicated work to this once-extinct species have no doubt shown just how successful conservation efforts can be. Other efforts are also being undertaken to revive the Woolly Mammoth and other extinct species of animals.
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