Last week two kiwi chicks, or baby birds, hatched in the wild near Wellington. This may not sound like news to some people, but it is the first time in 150 years that kiwi chicks have hatched in this area, so it is great news for people who look after or care about our national bird.
Earlier this year 50 kiwi were released into the hills in the south and west of Wellington. This was only possible because predators had been controlled in the area. The organisation Capital Kiwi Project laid 4,600 stoat traps across 24,000 hectares and worked to reduce the numbers of stoats over many years. Now kiwi can live safely near Wellington again. The new chicks will hopefully grow and put on weight, until they are big enough to fight off stoats with their big claws.
The kiwi is one of the symbols of New Zealand. It is flightless, like many other New Zealand birds, because there were no predators before humans arrived here. The animals that were introduced, such as stoats, rats and possums, eat native birds, chicks and eggs. Now there are many groups of people around the country working hard to protect our birds. Sometimes the birds live on predator-free islands, or they live in areas where people have trapped predators. There is a large wildlife sanctuary called Zealandia in Wellington which has a fence around it to keep predators out. Many native birds have been successfully reintroduced to Wellington at Zealandia and are now seen all around the city.
hatch – when a baby bird comes out of its egg
predator – animals that hunt other animals
stoat – a small wild animal that has a long thin body and brown fur
hectare – a unit for measuring area, equal to 10,000 square metres
sanctuary – an area for animals or birds where they are protected and cannot be hunted