The shore plover is the world’s rarest species with only 250 left in existence. A team that specialises in the recovery and searching of these rare birds has set off to recover the lost species. The remaining population was situated on an island with no known predators but during the coronavirus lockdown, they had all disappeared.
The team behind the conservation of the species have been hard at work trying to reintroduce the rare species to main land New Zealand since rats and cats had nearly wiped them out completely in 1880. For the next 100 years the small population of the birds lived on the Chatham Islands which are located east of New Zealand by 800kms.
Shore plovers or tūturuatu are renowned for their friendly attitude. This in conjunction with nests that sit on the ground have made them an easy prey for predators such as rats and cats. Their population is highly volatile with a single predator being able to wipe out a large percentage. Off the coast of the North Island Kapiti is Mana Island. This island was a successful home for a colony of shore plovers that was introduced in 2007. However a couple of years after their introduction to the island, a single rat was able to wipe out half of the entire population.
After the failed attempt conservationists have been hesitant to try again but in April and May of this year they did. 29 birds were introduced to the island where no predators had lived. The birds were banded but not GPS tracked which has led to them all disappearing. The working hypothesises of their disappearance at the moment are an avian predator known as the ruru has wiped them out, or they have migrated back to the mainland.