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Home » Environment

New Zealanders rise to the occasion for Great Kererū Count 2015

Submitted by on October 1, 2015 – 4:00 am

Image by Tony Stoddard

Record participation in the Great Kererū Count 2015 has been welcomed by conservationists and scientists who say New Zealanders have embraced efforts to count our native pigeon.

The nationwide count ended last night (Sunday 27 Sept) but people are still being urged to submit any sightings of kererū that occurred during the nine day count period.
As the count closed, 8,743 observations had been recorded.  Last year, a total of 7,101 observations were made.  A single observation can include one or more birds sighted, as well as a ‘zero’ count when no birds are sighted during a timed observation.
Tony Stoddard, WWF’s Kererū Count Coordinator, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the count and sent in their kererū observations.  Numbers of reported sightings and observations are up 1700 from last year, with more expected to come in. It’s not too late to report any sightings made between 19 -27 September.
“While observations are still coming in, at this stage we can estimate that around 19,000 kererū were sighted throughout New Zealand – from Stewart Island to the far north. Whatever the exact final figure, we will have exceeded the 14,194 birds counted in 2014.”
Tim Park, Wellington City Council’s Environment Partnership Leader, said: “The response from the public has been phenomenal. Despite atrocious weather battering the country, people really made a concerted effort to get outdoors and make kererū count!
“Kererū play a vital role in dispersing the large fruit of our native trees such as tawa, miro and matai. So understanding where they are found and whether numbers are increasing or decreasing is crucial as they play an important role sustaining our native forest ecosystems.”
The data is being collated with the help of the NatureWatchNZ community and will be analysed by scientists at Victoria University of Wellington. Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Stephen Hartley, believes the citizen science project will provide useful baseline data for tracking the health of the species:
“We’ll need a few more years of data before we can say whether they are becoming rarer or more common, but for now we can start to identify kererū hotspots and coldspots.“
Observations made during the count period (19 – 27 September) can still be recorded online at greatkererucount.nz,NatureWatch.org.nz and via the iNaturalist smartphone app.
The Great Kererū Count is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand and Forest & Bird. It is supported by Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC), Kererū Discovery, Wellington City Council, Victoria University of Wellington, Wildlands Consultants and NatureWatch NZ.
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