TODAY |

Endangered birds put under surveillance in battle against extinction


The battle to save an endangered native bird has gone up a notch, with conservationists launching a surveillance programme to monitor three female kaka in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Conservationists are launching a surveillance programme to monitor three female kaka in the Abel Tasman National Park. Source: 1 NEWS

The large native parrot was technically extinct in this region of the upper South Island before their release into the wild last month.

Now biodiversity rangers have the parrots under constant watch in our most popular national park, using radio transmitters to track them down deep in the forest.

DOC Biodiversity Ranger John Henderson goes bush to find them and says the biggest challenge for these kaka is adapting to the wild.

"They've basically lived in the aviary until they're nine months old and then they're chucked out into the wild," Mr Henderson said.

"They don't know wild food that well".

But already the project has suffered a loss. One of the four birds originally released has died and the cause is not yet known.

A $25 million private trust called Project Janszoon is funding the effort to bring back the birds.

Its ornithologist Pete Gaze says an autopsy was inconclusive.

"The birds were all a little light in weight, partly through living in captivity and not getting a chance to exercise.

"But whether that had any bearing on why this one succumbed we don't know."

The trust aims to release another 95 kaka into the region over the next five years.