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Whio, commonly known as Blue Duck, are highly endangered, threatened by predation – mainly by stoats - and loss of habitat. This is a localised species holding territories on fast-flowing mountain rivers in forested areas.













The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust is involved in establishing secure breeding areas for the whio populations of both the Maungataniwha Native Forest and Pohokura.

Maungataniwha Native Forest
Our work with whio at Maungataniwha includes establishing a secure breeding area by exterminating predators and pests, conducting research into resident populations and monitoring breeding patterns.

It is not a captive breeding programme. It’s about encouraging whio call our properties home because they’re safe places to live and breed.

A survey conducted in 2012 in the catchment areas of the Waiau and Te Hoe rivers, bordering the Maungataniwha Native Forest, found 19 breeding pairs of whio along 41km of waterway. It also found 13 single ducks and 29 juveniles along the same stretches of water.

This population density is immensely encouraging and resulted in the area being classified a whio ‘Recovery Site’ by the Department of Conservation’s Whio Recovery Group (WRG).

Similar Whio densities at the our nearby Pohokura property, and duplicated in informal counts elsewhere at Maungataniwha, indicate that relatively substantial populations of whio are likely to exist across the southern Whirinaki and Te Urewera ranges.

A post-survey report issued by DOC says whio numbers in the Maungataniwha block now exceed the population density of many other North Island sites. South Island sites are naturally less dense so are not included in comparisons.

The WRG classifies North Island sites it monitors as either Security Sites or Recovery Sites. At 0.47 pairs per kilometre the Maungataniwha Whio population density is approximately half the average of North Island Security Sites, but more than double the average density of Recovery Sites.
Maungataniwha’s close proximity to the Whirinaki Security Site, little more than 15km away in a straight line, underscores its appeal as a Recovery Site.

DOC says the area’s whio are benefitting from the extensive predator trapping we undertake in support of the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project. We operate 333 mustelid traps in the forest in partnership with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and have used our own funds to establish a network of trapping tracks.

Our work with whio at Maungataniwha is backed by a grant from Whio Forever, a species recovery programme launched jointly by Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Pohokura is home to a growing number of whio. Breeding has been documented at several sites and the population n the property is now deemed ‘nationally significant’.

The pest control poison1080 is used at Pohokura from time to time in an effort to control predators. This is believed to provide sufficient protection for whio. However further protection work is under way in order to provide a secure base from which Pohokura’s whio population can expand into surrounding public and private land.

At this stage the best method for achieving this has been large-scale stoat trapping and our efforts to secure the necessary resources continue.
Whio breeding has been documented recently at several sites across Pohokura. Not all potential breeding sites have been visited, however, so additional breeding may yet be unrecorded.

In contrast, the lack of whio breeding sites documented in the nearby Whirinaki Forest indicates that the 1080 operation at Pohokura may have proved vital for the continued survival of our resident population.

Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust


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