How to protect kōkako
The main threats to native birds living in trees are climbing animals such as possums, ship rats and stoats. Of these, possums and ship rats have been identified through research as the major predators of kōkako. They prevent the birds from breeding by eating both eggs and chicks. While the kōkako female can put up a fight, she cannot prevent them from relentlessly killing her young.
Although cats, dogs, ferrets and other animals constitute a serious threat to ground-dwelling birds, like the kiwi, these animals do not significantly impact kōkako numbers.
In a nutshell, you protect Kōkako
Pest control carried out prior to the nesting season enables kōkako to breed successfully. The main targets of pest control are possums and ship rats. Toxic baits are used to control these animal pests, which they eat from bait stations.
The Trust has established a large track network with around 550 bait stations located throughout the forest. Up to 60 dedicated volunteers provide the manpower to maintain these tracks and fill the bait stations.
Stoats are also recognised as an important pest and these animals are trapped.
2017 Pest control in the Kaharoa Conservation Area
The Kaharoa Kōkako Trust will be commencing possum and rat control in the Kaharoa Conservation Area this weekend using Pindone or diphacinone in bait stations, and Feratox encapsulated cyanide in Bio-bags.
The toxin was placed in bait stations within the forest starting from 9am on Saturday 2 September. This pest control was carried out by suitably qualified personnel in strict accordance with Department of Conservation and Medical Officer of Health guidelines.
All bait remaining in the bait stations was be removed by 30 November 2017.
Although the risks associated with this operation are very low, any dogs allowed to scavenge possum or rat carcasses in or near this area between September 2017 and February 2018 could incur secondary poisoning. The presence of warning signs indicates that pesticide residues may still be present in baits or animals.
Dogs are not allowed to enter the Kaharoa Conservation Area. If it is necessary for you to bring dogs close to the area, keep them on a lead or use a muzzle for their protection.
In 1997 there were 26 kōkako counted in the Kaharoa Forest, and the numbers were decreasing due to lack of pest control. When an adult census was conducted in 2006 there were 121 adult kōkako counted, with a large number of juveniles. These numbers are increasing thanks to ongoing pest control. Our latest census in 2015 counted 173 adults, 77 pairs and 19 singles.
The Kaharoa kōkako population is now the fourth largest in New Zealand. It is seen as an important source of birds for restoring kōkako numbers in other protected areas as part of a national kōkako recovery programme.
Translocations involve moving surplus birds from protected areas into other protected areas. This is an important any of introducing genetic diversity to fragmented populations.
In 2003, two female birds were moved to Lady Alice Island in Northland for Puketi Trust. One of these birds has formed a stable pairing with a local male.
Translocations are managed on a national basis by the Kōkako Specialist Group (DOC).