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Published: 2007-12-20 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has got behind efforts to save the kiwi from extinction by granting $39,000 to the National Kiwi Trust.

The money will be used to help with the cost of rearing kiwi chicks at the trust’s Operation Nest Egg (ONE) breeding facilities at Rainbow Springs, Rotorua.

ONE was launched in 1994 because a large percentage of kiwi chicks that hatch in the wild are killed by introduced predators before they can mature.

It has become so successful, Rainbow Springs can no longer cover the full costs of keeping the programme running, which are approaching $400,000 a year.

“The money we are giving will help with rearing chicks that will be released in the Waikato region in areas such as the Coromandel, Tongariro National Park and Maungatautari so there will be direct local biodiversity benefits,” Environment Waikato Environment Committee chairman Jane Hennebry said.

“The trust hopes to release 13 birds in the Waikato over the 2007/08 breeding season. It is aiming to secure more funding from the corporate sector in the near future but Environment Waikato’s grant will help sustain and grow the breeding programme in the short term.”

The council will give $3000 for every bird successfully released into the region, up to a maximum of $39,000.

The kiwi eggs hatched under Operation Nest Egg are retrieved from the wild by Department of Conservation rangers, who deliver them to Rainbow Springs to be incubated, hatched and reared.

The chicks are looked after until they weigh about one kilogram and are big enough to defend themselves against predators.

The National Kiwi Trust’s kiwi husbandry manager Claire Travers said the kiwi population in the wild halved about every 10 years.

“Without human intervention the survival rate of young kiwi in the wild is only 5%,” she said.

“With good research, ongoing trapping programmes and the use of the Operation Nest Egg Save the Kiwi programme this figure can be improved to 60-70%. “

Environment Waikato is now placing greater emphasis on boosting biodiversity in our region by protecting areas where kiwi and other native species live and breed.