Bringing back the wattled crow

Bringing back the wattled crow

Returning kokako to Mt Pirongia is a huge task but one a local group is working steadily towards. Clare St Pierre is the founding chairperson of the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society and recognises the challenges of reintroducing the bird to the mountain. “This is especially the case in terms of getting the go-ahead from the national Kokako Recovery Group, who are reassessing the prudence of starting new populations following genetic resilience research recently completed. It looks promising because of the prevalence of kokako food species present, and there are lots of seedlings coming up. During our time on the maunga we also had the delight of hearing – and seeing – riflemen, white-head and unbanded robins. If we do get the green light, raising the funds will be challenging, as it could easily take more than $200,000. We’re hoping a corporate sponsor might be interested in partnering with us.” _The society, which formed in 2002, is setting up an environmental activity centre in Pirongia Village. “We could have it open by this time next year, if we are able to access funding.”

 

Starting in 2006 with a 250ha bait station grid on the mountain, they now have 1000ha of grid and more than 100 volunteers on their books. Robins have been reintroduced, and monitoring set up for bats, birds and vegetation. Gerry Kessels was responsible for the development of the operational management plan for the bait station grid, and is a valued member of the committee, she says. “He’s an excellent source of advice, attuned to new developments, and blew us away by digging out a photo of the last kokako (see photo above) caught on Mt Pirongia, which he was involved with in the 1990s.” _Kessels Ecology has given support for the bat monitoring; providing training and access to technical resources. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”