Farmers praised for role in helping stilt

High-country farmers have been praised for contributing to a record-breaking season for the endangered kaki (black stilt).

Each year, Department of Conservation staff collect kaki eggs from the wild for incubation at the captive breeding centre at Twizel.

Nearly half of all eggs taken this summer were collected from farmland in the Mackenzie and Waitaki basins with the co-operation of farmers.

A particularly wet spring caused many kaki to abandon their traditional braided riverbed habitat in favour of wet paddocks and hidden ponds on private land, Doc biodiversity ranger Simone Cleland said.

''We put the word out that we needed help to locate adult breeding pairs so we could collect eggs and got a fantastic response.

''We had one farmer who rang up to say he had found four eggs and he'd wait until we picked them up before moving his sheep into the paddock,'' she said.

Jim Morris, of Ben Avon Station in the Ahuriri Valley, said it showed conservation and production could work together with thought and effort from all parties.

''The black stilt has been brought back from the brink of extinction by the combined efforts of all land managers and this should be seen as a small triumph in preserving biodiversity in the high country,'' Mr Morris said.

Doc reared a record 125 chicks this summer, up from the previous best of 111 in the 2009-10 season.


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