Forest & Bird members involved in mohua translocation to Coal Island

Photo by Jo Priestley Forest & Bird's senior media officer who was part of the team on Chalky Island. 

Eighty mohua/yellowhead were successfully moved from Chalky Island to Coal Island in Preservation Inlet, Fiordland National Park last weekend. The translocation will establish a new mohua population, spreading the range of the bird’s recovery on offshore pest free islands.

Led by the Coal Island Charitable Trust, in partnership with the Department of Conservation and the Mohua Charitable Trust (MCT), the translocation supports MCT’s aim to re-establish mohua, and other native bird populations, to numbers once found in New Zealand.

Forest & Bird member Ian Buick, the founding chairman of the Coal Island Charitable Trust, says the translocation of mohua to Coal Island is absolutely wonderful.

“It’s a dream come true for the trust, but we’re not finished yet. The ultimate for us would be to reintroduce kākāpō to Coal Island, and we’re working hard towards that goal,” said Mr Buick.

Mohua were reportedly widespread in the Preservation Inlet area until at least 1969. Aside from this mōhua translocation, 69 South Island robins/kakaruai and 27 Haast/tokoeka (a sub species of the southern brown kiwi) have also been successfully released onto Coal Island. 

Ian Buick says the original focus of the trust was to make Coal Island pest free so that threatened species could be re-introduced. He says it has taken the trust many years of fundraising and sponsorship, but to see another species like mohua reintroduced makes all the hard work worthwhile.

“Coal Island had never been milled or farmed, so from that perspective it was great. Getting rid of mice, red deer and stoats took a huge effort.”