Tuesday morning Pukaha welcomed the 102nd kiwi chick to be hatched at the wildlife centre. Pukaha rangers and volunteers have collected four kiwi eggs from the Pukaha forest so far this season and have begun the very delicate and specialised incubation process in the kiwi house nursery. The rangers will carefully turn the remaining three eggs four times a day while maintaining the temperature at 35.5 degrees Celsius until they hatch.
Pukaha, National Wildlife Centre is part of a National Kiwi recovery programme ‘Operation Nest Egg’ which involves uplifting kiwi eggs from the wild to improve their chances of survival against predators such as ferrets, stoats and rats. They are incubated, hatched in the nursery and hand raised to a weight of approximately 1.2 kilos, fighting weight, before being released back into the reserve.
Visitors to Pukaha can expect to see today’s kiwi chick hatchling over the coming two weeks once head kiwi ranger, Jess Flamy decides it is ready to start its introduction to the captive kiwi diet. Once they start on this feeding regime the public can watch the feed daily at the 12 pm kiwi talk. The Pukaha rangers will continue the kiwi chick feeding until they are confident the chick has accepted the diet and is eating it on its own. Chicks are then transferred to the “kiwi creche” or outdoor enclosures at Pukaha were they remain until their release.
General Manager, Emily Court says “We are all pretty excited when the eggs start hatching. The team are ready to gather up visitors in the reserve should an egg start hatching during opening hours. It is an extraordinary thing to witness”.