Between February and August, 34 young men from Tutoruato – the Maori name for the Chatham plover – were brought to the predator-free Mana Island off Pacific North Island, the Department of Nature Conservation announced Wednesday.
The goal was to increase its population there in a safe environment. It is estimated that there are only slightly fewer than 250 specimens left in the wild. However, after their release, the birds returned to the mainland – and fell victim to cats, rats, and cocks.
Some birds were found alive and brought back to Mana Island equipped with radio transmitters. There they seem to have been eaten by a falcon. Only two samples survived. One is now in a wildlife center, the other one has been spotted on the mainland.
Lessons from a disaster
“We now know that some of the less fortunate species that were on the list of Kareria (New Zealand hawk) have now apparently settled on Mana Island,” the ministry said.
A chatham plover can grow up to eight inches and have an orange-red bill with a black tip. It was a complex task to ensure the survival of an endangered species, as the failed experiment was said. The Mana Island disaster taught researchers a lot for future efforts to protect and preserve Tutoruato.
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