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Kiwis face minefield

?habitat destruction proposed

In the Waimangaroa Valley of New Zealand`s South Island, Forest and Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) are campaigning against a decision to allow a state-owned company, SOE Solid Energy, to proceed with plans for a large opencast coal mine. The west coast Cypress mine would destroy hundreds of hectares of red tussock grasslands, wetlands, shrublands and beech forest ? home to the Great Spotted Kiwi Apteryx haastii, which is classified as Vulnerable.At the same time as the government is spending millions of dollars a year through the Department of Conservation to halt the decline in New Zealand`s biodiversity, one of its own companies plans to open up a massive new opencast coal mine and destroy prime kiwi habitat said Tony Lockwood, Field Officer, Forest & Bird

Further down the west coast, recent studies of brown kiwis have suggested that the birds found in Okarito forest are a distinct species ? the Rowi Apteryx rowi. Also known as the Okarito Brown Kiwi, the proposed new species differs from other brown kiwis in its bare part colour, short bill, softer plumage and barred outer wing feathers. Its total population is estimated at just 150?250 birds. (For further information see Dutch Birding 26: pp.149?150.) Although the major threat to all kiwis is introduced predators, habitat loss clearly exacerbates an already serious situation for this unique New Zealand bird family.

4th July 2014