Rowi Project Blog
My name is Bevan Cameron and I work for Department of Conservation (DOC) in Haast – mainly with the Haast tokoeka kiwi. I have just spent the past week up in Franz Josef assisting the DOC biodiversity team with their rodent and stoat monitoring and rowi management.
Recently the biodiversity assets teams from Franz Josef and South Westland have joined together and become one team. For staff this is exciting as it has resulted in more opportunities to work across biodiversity programmes and get involved in programmes such as pest control, rowi management, Haast tokoeka management and tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) monitoring.
On Wednesday I went out with ranger Duncan Kay and did a transmitter change on a rowi juvenile in north Okarito forest.
I located the tree roots the bird was sleeping under. Duncan spotted the bird and directed me to go around the other side of the tree to prevent the bird from escaping. From my point I saw two birds in the burrow and I caught one of them. The other bird moved towards Duncan and he captured it along with another bird.
We worked out the bird that required the transmitter change and released the other two. We removed the old transmitter from the bird and attached a new one and then weighed it and measured its bill length.
It was interesting to work with another kiwi and compare and contrast them to Haast tokoeka. Rowi remain calmer when you approach them and their plumage is a different colour (rowi are brown-grey in colour, whereas Haast tokoeka have a red tinge to their plumage). Also rowi hang out together in family groups (hence why we found three birds in one burrow), whereas Haast tokoeka are solitary.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Franz Josef and learnt from the experience. In two weeks time the Franz Josef and South Westland Biodiversity teams will join forces and travel to Te Anau to do a transfer of Haast tokoeka kiwi juveniles from crèche islands to Kohanga sites (insurance population sites such as Orokonui Ecosanctuary) to protect these critically endangered birds from extinction.
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Stealthy stoats are kiwi chicks’ worst predator. In the wild, only 10% of young birds survive to six months, and fewer than 5% grow to adulthood.