The takahe, thought to be extinct, has been reintroduced to New Zealand

The takahe, thought to be extinct, has been reintroduced to New Zealand

More than 100 years after its reported disappearance, the turquoise blue wader has just been reintroduced to its ancestral lands in New Zealand.

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Takahi from New Zealand (JOAO INACIO / Royalty Free / Getty Images)

This is the story of a bird named takahi, a large bird with turquoise blue, football-like feathers, a type of globe sitting on two bright red legs, and is endemic to southern New Zealand. The takahe is one of the rarest creatures in the world. A bird that has wings but cannot fly is at the mercy of predators. They have been present in New Zealand since prehistoric times, and their species was declared extinct in the 19th century. 20th century, devastated by hunting, its habitat diminished, but also by the arrival of European settlers' four-legged companions: rats, cats and rodents.

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But in 1948, half a century after its disappearance was announced, during an expedition, some of its specimens were spotted. Conservationists collect their eggs, incubate them artificially, and feed their chicks in captivity. Little by little, the takahis are being reintroduced until today they have reached the small but promising number of 500 specimens in the country.

Valley of the Walking Birds

A few days ago, nine pairs of takahis were reintroduced in a very symbolic place: the Lake Wakatipu area, a valley once called the “Land of Walking Birds,” which takahis had not set foot in for 100 years.

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An event for nature lovers, but especially for one of the main tribes in the south of the country, the Ngāi Tahu tribe. These people have been waging a long legal battle for years to reintroduce the takahis to Ngāi Tahu's ancestral lands. Land was confiscated, sold, or stolen from these people, at the same time that the Takahe population declined. The lands were renamed the “Lands of Tears”, over which the returning blue bird would not be able to fly but would certainly make it more beautiful.

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