Critically endangered parakeets back from the brink on predator free island24/12/2012 07:29:58 New Zealand's Kakariki thriving on safe havens
December 2012. The critically endangered orange-fronted parakeets are thriving at Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds, a new study has found.
A base population of 11 has jumped to nearly 100 since the birds were moved to the predator-free sanctuary five years ago. However, there are still less than 1000 birds worldwide.
11 birds moved to Maud Island in 2007
In December 2005, captive-bred birds were moved to Chalky Island in Fiordland, and in 2007 transported to Maud Island began. Further populations were moved to Tuhua Island in December 2009 and Blumine Island in 2011 and this year.
With funding from the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Dr Ortiz-Catedral surveyed the Maud Island birds. He used a simple methodology based on sightings and estimated their survival during the study period, known as "mark-resighting".
High reproduction rates
"The evidence from this study suggests translocating captive-bred birds to sanctuaries like Maud Island, which are free of invasive predators, is an effective management method for increasing the global population size of the species," he says. "It is hoped this will eventually downgrade its IUCN threat category."
Dr Brunton says the study is an excellent starting point for further monitoring programmes for other parakeets managed through translocation, and proves such a managed conservation programme is effective.
Orange-fronted parakeets remain one of the least known forest birds in New Zealand due to their rarity, and the ambiguity of their status as a separate species.
Dr Ortiz-Catedral hopes that this study will promote awareness of the species.