Captive bred Orange-fronted Parakeets were released to the wild in New Zealand

April 17th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Captive bred Orange-fronted Parakeets were released to the wild in New Zealand
Conservation projects

Twenty three critically endangered Orange-fronted Parakeets (Cyanoramphus malherbi) have been bred in rescue centre Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch, New Zealand. Those birds were consequently released to the wild in Hurunui South Brancch in region Cantebury. It’s the only place in New Zealand where this species persists. And that’s also the first time when conservationists released the Orange-fronted Parakeet directly in New Zealand and not on several surrounding islands which are rid of invasive predators. The population size of this species is about 200-400 birds which means that this is the most threatened representative of genus Cyanoramphus.


One of 23 orange-fronted parakeets/kakariki karaka released in the Hurunui River South Branch on Thursday, March 12. (c) John Kirk-Anderson,


The Orange-fronted Parakeet is very similar to the Red-fronted (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) and Yellow-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) but it has an orange stripe on forehead, not red or yellow. In New Zealand there are the last three localities where is this species found now – in Hawdon, in Poulter Valley in national park Arthir Pass and in Arthir Pass, Hurunui Valley, Lake Summer Forest Park. Moreover, this parrot was introduced on islands Maud, Chalky, Blumine and Tuhua. Just on the island Maud the population grew from 11 to total 97 individuals between years 2007 and 2013. Island populations represent some kind of genetic bank just in case that this species will exctinct in New Zealand.


File:Maud Island.jpg

Maud Island, place where Orange-fronted Parakeets were introduced in 2007


It took ten years to get rid of rats and weasels

The reintroduction of this species on surrounding islands was possible just after 10 years of intensive fight against invasive predators. „There are a handful of orange-fronted parakeets left in the South Branch and the new birds are a step towards creating a self-sustaining population there“, said the field worker Simon Elkington for Both mammals are dangerous for the parrot population. They often go inside the nests and eat eggs, chicks or even the adult females. Whole project has started in 2005 when the size of worldwide population decreased from 1000 on 300-500 individuals. In 2007, conservationists took birds bred in captivity and moved them on the island Maud. At this place we can find a few introduced and critically endangered kakapos (Strigops habroptilus) as well.


Title photo: (c) Jon Sullivan This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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