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Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Zealand Yellowheads an endangered bird species in New Zealand...

The Yellowheads or Bush Canaries, are an endangered bird species in New Zealand that conservationists have attempted to assist by transfering to a predator free island in the South Island area.

The New Zealand Government's Department of Conservation (locally known as DOC) is at the head of all conservation programs in this country. It has established a mohua(Yellowhead) recovery plan.Its goal is to maintain and enhance the mohua population by halting and reversing the degradation of the forest eco system.

A SMALL PASSERINE found only on the South Island of New Zealand, the Yellowhead (Mohoua ochrocephala) was once abundant and occurred in mature forests throughout its range (Gaze 1985). No estimates are available on the original population size, but based on the area of forest once available and recorded densities (Higgins and Peter 2002), there may have been 1-3 million Yellowheads when Europeans first reached New Zealand. Forest destruction and the introduction of exotic mammalian predators (against which the birds have little defense) have now reduced the species to less than 25% of its former range and a total population of less than a few thousand birds (Higgins and Peter 2002). Control of introduced predators in some populations on the mainland has been successful in reversing the decline, but this strategy is risky: the last surviving population of 15 birds in the north of the South Island increased to 99 birds after a decade-long program of predator control, only to disappear during a rat plague over a single winter (Higgins and Peter 2002).

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