First wild whio ducklings hatch

Whio Chick

The first wild whio ducklings for the season were spotted in the Maungataniwha area in Northern Hawkes Bay recently.

Two clutches, each with four wild whio ducklings were spotted in a small creek in the Maungataniwha Whio Project area, which is located around the Waiau and Te Hoe Rivers. Since that first sighting, however, one of the whio ‘families’ appear to have lost some of their ducklings to either flooding or rats.

The Forestlife Restoration Trust Operations Manager Peter Shaw says a DOC survey confirmed 18 whio pairs and 32 young birds on 33kms of waterways, a tremendous result from the first season of trapping.

The 2013-2014 season was the first season of trapping on the rivers, and with the drought keeping Hawke’s Bay rivers at low levels the result was the best breeding success of any of the Whio Forever sites.

“The funding has allowed the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust to place traps alongside both the Waiau and Te Hoe rivers. Combined with the traps already placed on site to protect kiwi this has brought the total number of traps up to 872 within the Maungataniwha Native Forest,” he says.

Peter hopes the early whio ducklings are an indicator of another successful breeding season at the recovery site.

The Maungataniwha Whio Project, a new whio recovery site, is a joint project between the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust and Whio Forever, the Genesis Energy and Department of Conservation partnership.  Whio Forever provided initial funding to establish a trapping programme on the Waiau and Te Hoe Rivers, in Northern Hawke’s Bay.

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust has a number of other restoration projects based at Maungataniwha, including the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project, which has resulted in 182 kiwi produced over eight seasons under Operation Nest Egg. Most of these Maungataniwha sourced birds have been released back into the area but 50 also went to the Cape Sanctuary to form the bulk of their kiwi population.

Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation have partnered together in a five year programme to secure the future of this unique threatened native bird. Operating under the name of Whio Forever this partnership is fast tracking implementation of the national Whio Recovery Plan to protect whio and increase public awareness.

The support of Genesis Energy is enabling DOC to double the number of fully secure whio breeding sites throughout the country, boost pest control efforts and enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.