New Zealand is an archipelago of islands located off the coast of Australia’s southeastern border. Lush rainforests conceal a high level of endemic species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, many of which are found only in New Zealand. First colonized by humans 700 years ago, hunting, deforestation, among other signs of human presence has already taken toll on both the flora and fauna native of this beautiful land.
The kiwi bird is the most cherished bird in New Zealand. It is about the size of a chicken and is nocturnal in its nature. Their name originates from their distinct shrill cry “kee-wee-kee-wee” that comes from the male kiwi birds. The female kiwi birds have more of a hoarse throaty call. Though they are the same size of chickens they lay eggs the size of ostrich eggs. The kiwi bird is flightless and has a long beak that is one third the length of its body. The kiwi digs up and devours worms with the help of its long beak. Unlike most birds who have excellent eyesight and a poor to non-existent sense of smell, the kiwi bird is almost blind. During the day it can only see up to two feet in front of its body and during the night about six feet. It is unusual as a bird to smell their prey rather than see it. This is why the kiwi bird has been referred to as an “honorary mammal.” Another interesting feature of the kiwi bird is that it has no external tail, robust sharp clawed legs, and they have “thick grayish brown hair-like feathers.” They are a stout bird Over their lifespan they haven’t evolved much at all. The kiwi bird is suspected to be about eight million years old, meaning they are about 7 million years older than human beings.
The biggest threats to kiwi birds seem to be predators that have been introduced by humans to the New Zealand habitat. This list of predators includes many common household pets such as dogs, cats, ferrets, and stoats. The introduction of these new predators has led to a very low number of about 10% of all kiwi chicks living to the age of six months where they first begin to defend themselves. Lesser, but just as harmful, threats to the wellbeing of kiwi include changes to their habitat such as the altering or loss of the areas in which they live. This limited environment also has an affected increase of their risk to the negative effects of inbreeding. Fatalities are also often found roadside as a result of motor vehicles, where the kiwi are forced out of their limited environments to find basic needs.
There are many groups and organizations that support and assist in the recovery of the Kiwi. Some of these groups cover big issues and assist in helping the biodiversity hotspot. These larger groups use donation money in specific areas they believe they can be the most use. They promote recovery of the area, saving what vegetation and forest that is left, research and spreading the word.
Smaller groups such as trusts and local conservation efforts rely on volunteers to help on more onsite and assist in the recovery of the species. Both groups also rely on educating the upcoming generation about preserving biodiversity and warning them of the cons of not saving what we have.
Groups such as Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust, Karori Sanctuary Trust and BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust focus on restoring pockets of the environment, pest control, research and assisting in the procreation of the kiwi species. Most of these groups appear to have made some progress in saving the Kiwi from extinction from worldwide and local efforts.Citation: http://www.destinationsplus.org/inner/auckland.htm http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/native-plants-and-animals http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/birds/facts/factsheets/fact-brownkiwi.cfm http://www.powayusd.com/teachers/kjain/Gallery/Zoos/ZR/virtual%20zoo/kiwi.html http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/birds/land-birds/kiwi/kiwi/threats/ http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/hotspots/new_zealand/Pages/default.aspx