Kea worse off

Our beloved Bird of the Year is now internationally endangered.

The kea has been upgraded from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’ in BirdLife International’s reassessment of the threat status of birds for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

“Monitoring shows why kea are in decline and this is a wake-up call to take action,” says Forest & Bird Chief Conservation Adviser Kevin Hackwell.

“Every year, kea nests are destroyed by introduced predators like rats, stoats, possums, and feral cats.” 

“Kea who don't regularly interact with people really benefit from large-scale aerial predator control.”

Following a study that found that only 2% of kea nests were successful, aerial applications of biodegradable 1080 by Department of Conservation in 2015 resulted in nest success increasing to 27%.

“However, those kea that are fed by tourists and some locals tend to try novel foods, and sadly, they are particularly susceptible to eating the poison baits used to kill predators.”

“One of our greatest conservation challenges is to stop tourists and others from feeding kea. We can best help kea by never offering them food," says Mr Hackwell.

Kea are also impacted by climate change as warming temperatures could limit their habitat range in alpine environments.

Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, there are now only 3,000 - 7,000 kea left.

Forest & Bird is the New Zealand partner of BirdLife International.