Once widespread, the black stilt/kakī numbers were reduced to only 4 breeding pairs in the 1980s. Since then they have been intensively managed in order to ensure the survival of this unique New Zealand species.
The biggest challenge with managing black stilt in captivity is ensuring the health and wellbeing of these delicate birds. Long bills and legs make them prone to injuries, so measures have been undertaken to reduce risks. For example, the use of soft nylon aviary mesh, pest control and minimising disturbance.
Mammalian predators form the biggest threat for kakī in the wild, including human destruction of the natural habitat. Braided rivers are a complex ecosystem which have suffered a lot in the past decades due to intensive farming and introduced pest species.
The Isaac Conservation & Wildlife Trust has been involved in this programme since the early 1990’s. Historically a number of breeding pairs have been held, but over the past few years a change in strategy has led to a reduction in breeding pairs in exchange for an increase in holding space for juveniles. This change in strategy is due to the marked increase in the wild population, reducing the importance of holding many captive pairs, as most eggs can be collected from wild nests. The majority of eggs are hatched at the DOC captive breeding facility in Twizel, and the juveniles are transferred to the trust at approximately one month old. They are then held for the next 8-9 months in the 10 holding aviaries available on site before being released.
To learn more about how we're supporting efforts to ensure the future success of Kakī please visit our Isaac Conservation & Wildlife site.