Kiwi Conservation Programme
Kiwi birds are a national icon, equally cherished by all New Zealanders. They are seen as a symbol for the uniqueness of New Zealand wildlife. According to the Department of Conservation, there are 68,000 kiwi birds in all of New Zealand and approximately 2% of unmanaged Kiwi are lost every year. Kiwi are nocturnal, which means that they come out of their burrows at night to look for insects, grubs, earthworms, fallen fruit and native plants. Stoats, ferrets and weasels are the biggest threat to the survival of Kiwi, closely followed by cats and dogs. Only 5% of all Kiwis hatched in the wild survive to adulthood.
Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs has now hatched over 1,600 eggs at the Kiwi Encounter facility.
Rainbow Springs first became involved in Kiwi when they were first displayed there in 1975. Later, Rainbow Springs joined the Operation Nest Egg programme in 1995 receiving its first egg from the Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary. The work since 1995 has helped the North Island population of the Brown kiwi considerably. Rainbow Springs now receive eggs from 15 sanctuaries and reserves around the North Island and are the leading kiwi hatchery in New Zealand.
Department of Conservation staff and field teams monitor male kiwi and when they have established incubation of eggs in the field, teams then lift the eggs from the burrows and bring them to Rainbow Springs partially incubated. Chicks are raised to 1kg in weight and then returned to the wild by D.O.C. staff.
AAT Kings and TreadRight’s support has funded the purchase of a new incubator and weighing scales at Rainbow Springs for the benefit of future incubated Kiwi birds.
In 2017, AAT Kings has been able to support an egg at Rainbow Springs from incubation to hatching and release helping promote the conservation programme at Kiwi Springs. A number of AAT Kings New Zealand holidays visit Rainbow Springs giving guests an insight in to the conservation efforts.
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