Catch up on shows with The Coast On Demand
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
How many kea are left in the world? The same number as tigers and a lot of money is being spent on saving tigers. That's what the
Kea Conservation Fund says it's up against, in the fight to keep our native parrot on the planet.
We have between 1000 and 5000 Kea, but research on four separate populations points to numbers decreasing.
In the 1990s, 11 breeding pairs were rearing 10 chicks a year in a 7000-hectare area of the Nelson Lakes. Ten years later that area was checked twice and only three pairs were found. Those birds were raising two chicks annually.
The age of Kea in the wild is a concern too. The parrots should live to around 30, but many are dying at four or five years old.
Factors behind this, are lead poisoning from eating the lead off nails in high country huts, degraded environment and stoats and possums.
The trust is working on several ways to protect the Kea, including a bird repellent to be included in 1080 poison. A farmer near Queenstown is also trialling a spray to keep the birds away from sheep. The birds can smell the compound, which makes them feel sick. Hopefully, Kea will associate the smell with that feeling and stay away from the flock.
Alas, the birds' intelligence often works against them. A Conservation Department worker spent days laying 200 stoat traps in the remote Murchison Valley. It was only after he'd set all the traps, that he realised Kea had been walking behind him and using a stick to set them off.
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