by Carla Andrea Fundarotto
New Zealand is working to bring the population of Kiwis, the symbolic birds of the archipelago, back to 100,000 by 2030, to combat their extinction. And this is how, already this year, the first results begin to be glimpsed: the song of the Kiwis slowly begins to resonate in the streets.
“It’s incredible – explains Ngaire Sullivan, coordinator of Kiwi Coast, an organization that fights the extinction of the species – New Zealand has no native land mammals, so many of its native birds are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators. Rats, stoats and dogs have been devastating precisely for the Kiwi: only 10% of the chicks survive up to six months, more than half are in fact killed by stoats. But now, thanks to various recovery activities, something is changing ”.
How New Zealand intends to save the Kiwis?
The New Zealand government has allocated approximately $ 20 million to support and intensify the efforts needed to protect Kiwis, including controlling predators in the areas inhabited by these birds by training dogs capable of avoiding Kiwis and caring for kiwis. kiwi puppies to increase their chances of survival.
How many species of Kiwi are there?
Kiwis are endemic to New Zealand and are its national symbol. They represent the only genus of the Apterygidaee and can be classified into 5 different species, to which also 2 subspecies must be added:
- Apteryx australis: the brown kiwi or southern kiwi and includes 2 further native subspecies respectively of the South Island and Stewart Island (or Maori Rakiura)
- Apteryx haastii: the spotted kiwi, still widespread in the north-western part of the island southern
- Apteryx mantelli: a brown kiwi found only on the north island
- Apteryx rowi: living on the west coast of the south island
- Apteryx owenii: the lesser spotted kiwi
Are Kiwis Really Out of Danger?
Despite the efforts of the New Zealand government, the danger of extinction cannot yet be considered completely past. If initially, it is estimated, there were about 12 million Kiwis, with the arrival of man, the population would have shrunk to less than 100,000 in 1998 and 70,000 only ten years later.
According to estimates from 2019, there would be about 68,000 specimens left. 90% of the babies born are destined to die within 6 months of natural causes, from predators or as a result of the loss of the habitat necessary for their survival, considering that the extension of the rainforest has drastically reduced.
New Zealand’s goal, however, remains to bring the Kiwi population back to 100,000 by 2030.