Two kiwi chicks have become the first to be born in the wild in New Zealand's capital for more than 150 years, conservationists have discovered.
The chicks arrival in Wellington comes a year after New Zealand's national bird was reintroduced to the city as part of the Capital Kiwi Project.
There are now 65 North Island brown kiwis in the city thanks to conservation efforts by the project, which hopes to restore a large-scale wild population of the flightless birds to New Zealand’s capital. The release last November of 63 kiwis marked the first time in a century wild kiwis had lived in the urban area.
The project said there is likely to be more chicks.
Another 18 brown kiwi chicks are expected to hatch as part of the project, which plans to use transmitters to monitor the latest arrivals as well as any others that hatch.
The brown kiwi is one of New Zealand’s most common kiwi species, but according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, the birds could be extinct in the wild within two generations without better conservation and support.
There were once around 12 million kiwis in New Zealand, but their population has plummeted to just 68,000, according to the Save the Kiwi charity. Just 95% of wild born kiwi in New Zealand are killed before they reach adulthood, the organisation said.
The country’s kiwi population is declining at an average of 2% a year, mostly due to predators like stoats, cats, dogs and ferrets, according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.
The Capital Kiwi Project said it was "deeply delighted to announce the discovery of two pēpē kiwi on Monday."
"They were found while CK’s Pete and Christine were monitoring several kiwi males sitting on eggs. Estimated hatch dates meant that there was a possibility of Pete finding a single bird in the burrow deep in the fronds of a mamaku fern — he was beaming as he pulled out a second."Only a quarter of the 63 adult birds are being monitored, so there will likely be other chicks out there on our hills from here onwards. These two pēpē will be monitored via transmitters (along with the next 18 chicks to hatch). We will provide an update at the end of the season."
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