New Zealand: trying to save Kiwi birds

The overpopulation of Australian possums has affected the ecosystem in New Zealand to the point where this type of bird is in real danger

New Zealand: trying to save Kiwi birds

For a long time the government of New Zealand has been an active participant in the creation of adequate conditions for flora and fauna due to the fact that it is a country that lives off the ecotourism created by the islands. However, since the textile industry introduced the Australian possum, the island´s ecosystem has been severely affected.

The Australian possum used to be an endangered species, but when it arrived to New Zealand the population growth of this mammal was very fast to the point that the flora of the region has been severely damaged, and as a consequence other species have stopped their proliferation such as the case of the Kiwi. The main purpose of the arrival of the Australian possum was completely industrial. However, the neglect of the people in the industry caused the animal to escape and to reproduce in a very fast way, to the degree that a population of 70 million possums were registered and this caused a very rapid deterioration in the habitat of the Kiwi.

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The Kiwi is a type of bird that does not fly, is unique because it has the nostrils at the end of its beak, and it is nocturnal birds. There are five types of kiwi: the great spotted, the little spotted, the southern brown, the North Island brown, and the Okarito. Of the five types, four are in vulnerable state and the North Island brown Kiwi is in danger of extinction. The Okarito type is considered in critical condition although there is no information to back up this declaration. At first, it was believed that the kiwi were defenseless, but they were found to be very territorial. It is also known that the Kiwi population has been very reduced: just a few years ago the Kiwi population was approximately of 70,000 specimens, but it is estimated that for this year only 35,000 specimens prevail.

The Kiwi is very representative of New Zealand. The government has implemented the fumigation of the mammals that are affecting the ecosystem, which was achieved by the distributing a pesticide known as a toxin 1080, that acts only when mammals ingest it and die. To this day it has been registered to be effective to make the Australian possum population to stop growing, although the effects of the toxins have been criticized because they have found some death birds and even there have been research about the indirect effects of the toxin in humans. The ecologist considered an “ecocide” this government measure due to the fact that other animals have been affected such as cats, dogs and cows.

The efforts of the government to keep the kiwi out of danger are big, although some people consider that they should put more effort in the reforestation of the area so the habitat could regenerate and they have to keep in consideration that the kiwi is an animal that reproduces in a dense vegetation zone.  


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