Conservationist accidentally kills one of world’s rarest birds

July 5th, 2008 - 7:40 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, July 5 (DPA) A conservation worker in New Zealand has killed a flightless takahe - one of the world’s rarest birds - by mistake, it was reported Saturday. The takahe was believed to have been extinct until some were found in the remote Fiordland region of the South Island 60 years ago and although the Conservation Department has since run an intensive breeding programme to ensure their survival, they remain highly endangered.

A department spokesman confirmed that a worker killed one last month while shooting a flock of common pukeko birds on Mana Island, near Wellington.

There are about 600 pukeko on the island, one of four offshore bird sanctuaries used for the takahe breeding programme, and they have to be culled because they uproot native saplings and prey on the chicks of the endangered shore plover and brown teal, the Dominion Post reported.

Local department manager Ian Cooksley said the takahe, which has similar colouring to the pukeko, was shot in poor light.

“The man responsible was devastated - saving endangered species was part of his job,” he told the paper.

About 130 takahe are thought to remain in their natural habitat in Fiordland’s Murchison Mountains and another 60 or so on the four islands where breeding pairs have been established.

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