Kakabeak plant on 'edge of oblivion'

  • 05/10/2014

Conservationists are calling on the help of outdoor enthusiasts to play a part in saving kakabeak plants from extinction.

There are only about 130 native kakabeak plants in the wild and every new one spotted could help bump up that number.

You can expect to find million-dollar views where the kakabeak calls home.

The native New Zealand plant likes to grow on cliff faces, and that can make it hard to spot.

But for Peter Shaw of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, today is his lucky day.

"Well this is great news. We thought there was just one wild plant here originally but there's actually two other plants just off the side of it, so this has actually increased the wild Hawke's Bay population of kakabeak from 28 to 30," says Mr Shaw.

And that's a significant boost to the total wild population, estimated at just 130 – a number that earns the kakabeak New Zealand's highest possible threatened plant ranking of "nationally critical".

"They're teetering right on the edge of oblivion in the wild," says Mr Shaw.

Kakabeak are common in people's gardens, but Mr Shaw says it's critical to preserve the genetic variation of the wild plants to ensure a strong population.

So he's asking bush-goers to keep their eyes open for wild kakabeak flowering in the bush this spring and report the location to the Department of Conservation so seeds can be taken from them.

"The only places you'll find them now are perched somewhere where the goats and the deer and the rabbits and the hares can't get at them and wipe them out," he says.

The trust has been experimenting with ingenious ways to spread the seeds back into the hard-to-reach places where the kakabeak is safe from predators. That includes loading them into a shotgun.

Conservation efforts appear to be working, with the wild population up from 80 plants five years ago.

And now with the public's help, the trust hopes it can have an even better shot at saving the kakabeak.

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source: newshub archive