Predators and habitat loss have led to the steady decline of many of New Zealand native bird species. But with New Zealand agencies such as the Wildlife Services and the Department of Conservation, many of those species are finally on the increase.
FindYourStampsValue.com is happy to present this stamp issue that focuses on five native bird species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the hard work of agencies such as the Wildlife Service and the Department of Conservation. Their great work has seen them go on to become world leaders in bird conservation.
Campbell Island Teal stamp
This flightless duck was believed to be extinct due to predation by rats and cats on Campbell Island. In 1975, less than 30 birds were discovered on nearby Dent Island. Of these, 11 were caught to establish a captive-breeding programme at Pukaha/Mt Bruce. After years of failure, one of the three females finally bred, and the captive population then flourished. In 2000, 24 captive-bred birds were released on Codfish Island pending the eradication of rats from Campbell Island which was accomplished in 2001. Between 2004 and 2006 150 teal were returned home. The total population is now over 250 birds.
Black Stilt stamp
A combination of predation by feral cats and other carnivorous mammals, loss of breeding habitat, and cross breeding with pied stilts, reduced the population of pure black stilts to a few dozen birds in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury. Control of predators and weeds in breeding areas, and collection of eggs for artificial incubation at special facilities near Twizel has seen the population rise to about 100 birds, despite occasional setbacks from severe winter weather.
North Island Kākā stamp
Kākā nest in tree cavities in old forests, and while this provides good protection from the elements, it makes them vulnerable to mammalian predators, especially stoats. In many mainland populations the sex ratio of this parrot is skewed in favour of males because many females are killed on the nest. Possums and rats compete for fruit but pest control and eradication from islands, and the creation of fenced sanctuaries, has seen rapid growth from about 3,000 birds to over 5,000, and has balanced the sex ratio.
South Island Saddleback stamp
In the 1800s and early 1900s, introduced predators exterminated this ancient wattlebird from the South and Stewart Islands, leaving them living on just three islands off the southwestern corner of Stewart Island. In 1963, ship rats reached these remaining islands and emergency action was taken in 1964 to transfer 36 birds to two nearby rat-free islands. They flourished and have since been shifted to many other islands that were naturally free of rats, or that had been successfully cleared of rats, and now number over 2,000 birds.
Northern New Zealand Dotterel stamp
This wader breeds mainly on the sandy coasts of the northern North Island. Coastal breeding brings problems such as nests being destroyed by off-road vehicles and accidental disturbance by beachgoers. Predation by cats, stoats, ferrets and other carnivorous mammals is an ongoing serious problem. Protection of favoured breeding sites with temporary fences and pest control has led to strong population increases in eastern Northland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty bringing the overall population up from 1,350 in the 1990s to more than 2,000 today.