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New Zealand Wattlebirds: Callaeidae

Conservation Status

The huia and the South Island subspecies of kokako are extinct. The North Island subspecies of the kokako and the saddleback looked likely to follow until work on the part of the government of New Zealand brought about an increase in their populations since the 1960s. According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the kokako is listed as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction, and the saddleback is Near Threatened, in danger of becoming threatened with extinction.

Once inhabiting large stretches of forest on the mainlands and some islands, saddlebacks are no longer found on the mainland. Of the South Island subspecies, only 650 individuals were still alive in the early 1960s, and confined to Big South Cape, Pukeweka, and Solomon Islands. The North Island subspecies lived only on Hen Island.

In 1964, the New Zealand Wildlife Service (NZWS) captured a number of North Island saddlebacks on Hen Island, then released them on nearby Whatapuke Island, where any introduced predators had been exterminated. The new colony proved successful. Rats had gained a foothold on Big South Cape Island, so, during the same year, the NZWS transferred thirty-six saddlebacks from Big South Cape Island to other, pest-free islands. That modest number has since increased its population to over 700. The North Island saddleback now inhabits nine large islands. The South Island saddleback lives on eleven smaller islands.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsNew Zealand Wattlebirds: Callaeidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, New Zealand Wattlebirds And People, Conservation Status, Kokako (callaeas Cinerea): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET