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Waikato Times, November 26, 1992 


Transmitters to track endangered weka chicks

In dense bush near Paeroa, researchers are about to launch a project to save one of the country's threatened native bird species.

Six weka chicks will be re leased in the Karangahake Gorge on Monday, followed by 94 more during the next year.

Fitted with radio transmitters, the birds will be tracked and monitored during the next year to determine their movements and breeding patterns.

It is the first time such an programme has been initiated in New Zealand.

Approved by the Conservation Department, the project is being organised by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

The weka chicks, between four and 12 months old, have been bred in private aviaries and held at a specially-designed enclosure on a Karangahake property for the past few weeks.

Organiser Ann Graeme, a conservation officer for the society, said there had been about 100 releases of weka around the country but all appeared to have failed. She believed it was because the birds were territorial adults which tried to make their way back to where they were released from.

It was hoped young birds which had not yet established their own territory would be encouraged to stay in the Karangahake Gorge area.

A weka specialist involved in the project, Tony Beauchamp said the Karangahake settlement had been chosen because of its good vegetation, water and food supply.

Local residents were also keen to help out with the project, he said.

The birds, all males, would be fitted with radio transmitters or coloured leg bands.

Schoolchildren and other locals were being encouraged to report any sightings which would be recorded on an aerial map at the school.

A university student would record the chicks' progress.