Two kiwi species lose 'endangered' label after conservation push

Brown kiwis like this one are no longer considered endangered.
Brown kiwis like this one are no longer considered endangered. Photo credit: Supplied / Auckland Zoo

Two species of kiwi are flying back into the limelight after shedding their endangered status.

Almost 30 years of conservation effort has created a healthy boost in the populations of rowi and brown kiwi, bumping their status to vulnerable.

The rowi population has increased from only 160 birds in 1995 to 450 adults today, while the North Island brown kiwi is seeing similar numbers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is about to upgrade the birds' status from endangered to vulnerable.

"This means instead of being in serious trouble, these two types of kiwi are no longer at such a high risk of extinction," says Forest and Bird chief conservation officer Kevin Hackwell.

"It's great to have international recognition for all the hard work throughout the country helping these species to recover."

Mr Hackwell says the huge surge in numbers allows conservationists to focus more effort on South Island species.

"They are now going to receive a lot of attention," he said.

"We've learnt a lot and we know that we can manage pests at a landscape level, which is really important if we're going to make this work."

The success is the result of 30 years of coordinated efforts from the government, tangata whenua, and community groups.

When recovery efforts began, many kiwi were being killed by predators in the nest or as chicks.

Conservationists began by rescuing eggs from the forest, to release after they hatched and fledged safely.

Mr Hackwell says the huge success conservationists have achieved in the North Island warrants replication down south.

"Some of the technology that we're applying to [other endangered species] has actually been developed from the work that has been done to recover our kiwi species," he said.

Mr Hackwell warns that the now less endangered species of kiwi are not in the clear, with the North Island brown kiwi most at risk due to poor dog control.

Newshub / NZN