Victory School students Al Today Today and Mu Blung Thai Thul check out the kaka chicks. Photo: Jonty Dine.

First kaka chicks reared at Natureland

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A bird on the brink of extinction has been given a second chance at survival thanks to the efforts of local conservationists.

The South Island kaka is native to the Top of the South and due to infrequent breeding and nest predation is on the endangered species list with fewer than 10,000 remaining.

Natureland director Meg Rutledge has been at the forefront of the fight to keep the kaka alive.

The Wildlife Trust has partnered with Project Janszoon for the past three years to help restore biodiversity to Abel Tasman National Park.

Meg says, as kaka do not breed every year – some only once every three-seven years – , compounded with nest predation, the initiative is crucial for the species’ long-term survival.

“This summer we are hoping to rear up to 20 chicks to be released in Abel Tasman National Park in 2019.”

The first chicks of the summer season arrived at the park a fortnight ago and range from 17-22 days old.

“They are doing extremely well and in one week they have doubled their weight.”

Meg says they will continue this accelerated growth rate until they reach weaning age, which is usually at about three-months-old.

“We feed them six times a day, from early morning through late evenings, which requires a real team effort to manage this.”

Meg says a number of volunteer kaka carers are essential to the programme’s success.

“We are proud to be making a difference to endangered species populations this summer.”

Visitors to Natureland can watch Meg and her team care for the kaka which are fed around 11am and 2pm each day.