After a campaign to eliminate invasive predators in the New Zealand capital, the Kiwi has returned to the Wellington hills after a century of absence. The arrival of Polynesian populations in the 13th century and the arrival of Europeans changed the ecosystem, and invasive species began to prey on and nibble on the island’s natural resources, affecting the population of New Zealand’s endemic birds, such as the Kiwi and the Kakapo. Currently, there are only about 70,000 wild Kiwis left in the country.
The “Capital Kiwi Project” is a large-scale initiative that seeks to protect the Kiwi. The organization has placed more than 4,500 traps in an area equivalent to 43,000 football fields in the hills around Wellington, capturing 1,000 stoats. After the removal of stoats, the first batch of Kiwis was released in November 2022 at a school in Wellington. Over the next five years, the project aims to release 250 birds. Regular monitoring shows that this first generation is doing well and has gained weight after two months in the wild, thanks to the fact that “there is plenty of food for them on these hills.”
Kiwis are an important symbol of New Zealand, and the project aims to incorporate their distinctive cry into the daily lives of the inhabitants of the capital’s suburbs. For New Zealanders, Kiwis have a special bond that makes them feel identified with them. The “Capital Kiwi Project” believes that it is their duty to protect this species and honor its name.
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