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Figure 12.10: Change in distribution of the kōkako

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North Island Kōkako (Callaeas cinerea)

Photo of a kōkako.

The kōkako belongs to the endemic New Zealand wattlebirds, an ancient family that includes the North Island and South Island saddlebacks and the extinct huia. The kōkako feeds on foliage, fruits, and invertebrates, and is well known for its beautiful song.

Currently, about 750 pairs of kōkako occur in several isolated populations in the central and northern North Island, mainly in podocarp hardwood forests. The North Island kōkako (C. cinerea wilsoni) is classified as nationally endangered. The South Island kōkako (C. c. cinerea) is classified as extinct.

Although deforestation in the past centuries has resulted in a substantial loss of habitat, possums, rats, and stoats are the main threat to kōkako populations at present.

The management of the kōkako is guided by a recovery plan, and recent management of the remaining North island populations have reversed their overall decline. For kōkako populations to increase, possums and rats need to be controlled to low levels.

 

Data source and photo: Courtesy of the Department of Conservation.

Text description of figure

This figure shows the distribution of the kōkako on a map of New Zealand: Its estimated pre-human distribution, during the 1970s and current distribution. It shows that its range has contracted and it now occupies about 2 per cent of its original range.