100 million years ago, New Zealand was 100% covered by forest and the Kiwi bird flourished comfortably with many other species foreign to modern times. Today New Zealand has only approximately 25% of its original (prior to human settlement) forest cover remaining. If man has cut down their habitat by 75% then why not the Kiwi and other domestic animals to that island? The facts are that its worse than that. The Kiwi population of 80 years ago was around 5 million birds. Today, they have plummeted to 50,000 – 60,000 which is dropping fast considering their population was up to 5 million 80 years ago. This rapid decline in kiwi numbers is what has placed them on the endangered species list, and is the reason behind the kiwi breeding programme that takes place at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve through the New Zealand Conservation Trust. To make a difference, you can adopt a Kiwi from the New Zealand Conservation Trust website above.
Looking at the Kiwi, you have to wonder why it hasn’t been extinct already. Kiwis have very small wings, and almost one third of their total weight is made up from two heavily muscled legs. Their long bill allows deep probing into the ground for earthworms, and they have nostrils located on the tip of their bill, an adaptation that often requires a loud snort to clear. Kiwi’s have evolved for 70 million years before man introduced the many mammals that have made a slow but profound impact on their population. Kiwi’s chicks and eggs are very vulnerable to predators, which include possums, stoats, ferrets, feral cats, pigs and dogs. Also the removal of large areas of forest has reduced the habitat and left fragmented populations of kiwi across the country. Kiwi lay the largest egg in proportion to their size of any species of bird at 20% of the female’s body weight. Makes sense that 95% of their eggs and chicks are killed are killed a week after birth.
so what are we doing to endanger them?
Kiwis are endangered due to habitat loss and imported animals. When we as humans kill off other animals it effects their whole food-chain. As is often the case, the introduced species have thrived, creating a threat to the native species which have less highly developed protective and defensive adaptations, having enjoyed a secure environment for thousands of years. The kiwis’ homeland, native forests and scrubs in New Zealand, are disappearing at an alarming rate due to clearing of forests for farming and agriculture, forest fires and introduction of imported animals. When we get rid of their brush they have no where to hide fom predators and are in danger. Due to the inability to fly, this makes kiwis vulnerable to their predators, which are usually land animals like fox’s and wild dogs.
http://www.willowbank.co.nz/: for info and facts about the Kiwi bird.
Youtube.com – Kiwi video