Successful Kea survey

Team banding a Kea in the Stuart Mountains, Wapiti area Fiordland. PHOTO: Dave Bashford

The largest Kea survey in the country has finished its second phase in Fiordland with "roaring success".

The Kea survey is run in conjunction with the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation (FWF), Kea Conservation Trust (KCT) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), and was set up to stop the decline in kea numbers in the southern district. Over the past two years Wapiti hunters have been documenting sightings of kea throughout the 125,000ha Wapiti area during the annual ballot.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation president Roy Sloan said Stage Two of the survey was a "roaring success" with a team spending 10 days in the Stuart Mountains capturing kea and putting bands on their legs to enable them to identify individual birds.

"Over the 10 days the team captured an amazing 44 kea, the largest number of kea by far caught during one of these surveys anywhere in the South island. 

"The great unknown is the number of kea surviving in New Zealand, and this is precisely the reason why the Wapiti Foundation and the Kea Conservation Trust initiated this project. Over the years, Wapiti hunters have reported seeing good numbers of kea in the area. However even though these sightings are from reputable and knowledgeable people, some science needs to be invested into these birds," he said.

Mr Sloan said of the 44 kea that were banded, two were fitted with transmitters and bloods were taken to check for lead levels. 

The cost of the survey was around $30,000 per year, which was a cheap investment to help the groups understand the iconic bird, but urgent sponsorship was required, he said.

"This is even more urgent now that we believe the population in declining across the South Island at an alarming rate. This year survey was funded by Paradise Valley Spring who has been a long time supporter of the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and its various projects, and also Clever Kiwis who are supporter of the Kea Conservation Trust. However we need someone to sponsor this project or it will not be completed." 

If anyone wishes to help out with sponsorship contact the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation via fwfsecretary@gmail.com


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