Kiwi the threats that they face

  1. The kiwi are five species of flightless, forest-dwelling birds that are native to the many islands of New Zealand. They're about the size of a chicken, with a long bill with nostrils at the end and no tail. Kiwis are nocturnal birds with the highest egg-to-body weight ratio compared to all birds. Their scientific name is Apteryx for all of their species.
Top Left: Little spotted kiwi Bottom Left: Great Spotted Kiwi Top Right: Okarito Brown Kiwi Bottom Right: North Island Brown Kiwi Middle: Southern Brown Kiwi

New Zealand is losing about 2% of their kiwi population each year- this means about 20 die kiwi every week. All five species are classified as At Risk or Critically Threatened. Kiwi face two main struggles- losing their habitats, and predators.


Pastureland is not a good habitat for kiwi. The kiwi can be killed when land is cleared out by burning and large rollers that are used to crush vegetation.

Habitat loss can also put kiwi and their predators into smaller areas together. Their social organization can also be changed, because of their territorial tendencies. The less habitat means the more and more competition for space, which will cause more boundary wars, less breeding, and more kiwi being pushed into farmland where dogs can kill them.


The main predators for kiwis are stoats and cats, which can take a heavy toll on the younger birds for the first three month of their lives. Dogs are more so hard on adult birds, which can be bad for their species since they're the breeding birds, and without them there aren't any eggs or chicks for the population to increase. Ferrets are also known for killing kiwi. Other animals like possums kill both adult and kiwi chicks, as well as destroying their eggs and their homes.

The stoats (or ermines or weasels) are an nonnative species that came to New Zealand in the 19th century, mainly to combat other nonnative species like the rabbit. Yet it refused to change it's diet from just rabbits, and switched to kiwi chicks instead. Stoats can be very hard to catch, so different programs have been put into place to make up for the damage done to the species. Farmers are trying to help by taking matters into their own hands, and introducing another species to get the stoats, the possum.


In a specific, and seemingly bizarre case, one cause of the kiwi's declining population is something people were trying to fix. The original kiwis from a nearby island of D'Urville in New Zealand's population went extinct by the 1980's. The last known female and male were relocated to a predator-free sanctuary on Long Island. One female and two more males were moved from Kapiti to Long Island too in 1989, and the population today stands at 50.

Since both of the little spotted kiwi populations from the individual birds from the D'Urville and Kapiti islands, scientists there thought that they would harbor the most genetic diversity, which will increase their value as a species. A genetic survey was ran to measure the amount of genetic diversity for the spotted kiwi would look like, and see if they need to move the D'Urville island birds and move them.

The largest population of spotted kiwi (1,200 birds) on Kapiti Island were losing genetic diversity at an increasing rate.The analysis revealed that their genetic behavior was like they were acting as a population of forty birds. All of the populations were losing diversity with each generation, as well as going through genetic erosion.


If the Kiwi's were to go extinct, the presumption would be that the species above and below it would result in loss. Without the kiwi, stoats would most likely rely on rabbits for it's main food source, which would cause those species to become endangered. There would be an overpopulation of worms, since there would be another lost species that aren't there to use it for prey. The only species that wouldn't be affected much by the kiwis extinction would be the skunk.


Since kiwi are so adaptable to their environments, they can be found in a range of habitats; exotic forests, farmlands, tussocks, mangroves, even sand dunes. They prefer wetlands, and dislike places with livestock.

Kiwis build burrows instead of nests like most birds, so that they can lay eggs. They can be found deep in forests, river lands, and busy plains.

Kiwi live all over New Zealand, with different species living on the two main islands.


Kiwi are timid by nature, and aren't usually the type of animal that stays close to human habitats, so they're not the ones to be very active with other species. They are very territorial with not only themselves, but with other animals, and are very protective of their burrows. Kiwi have evolved to fit the niche that would be filled by mammals, yet since New Zealand's known for its isolation, this species had taken on this lifestyle. Other than it's many predators, kiwi don't interact with different animals. The only species that come in contact with kiwi are humans when working on programs and conservation acts to save them from endangerment.


There are many different programs that have been set up to save kiwi which includes the Kiwis for Kiwi Charity. This national charity supports conservation projects to protect the populations and saving the health of their habitats. This particular charity helps out by funding these projects, and spreading information on this endangered species. This community along with many charities have been setting up ways to help the kiwi out of endangerment through many different solutions. This includes: controlling the predator populations, advocating for the research of the species, and protecting their environments.


Although all five of the kiwi species are endangered, there are many efforts being made to save New Zealand's national symbol. Since these islands are so isolated, there are many unique species that are slowly going extinct with not much more recognition around the rest of the world. Yet here it's widely known that this bird's endangerment would have a great impact, not only ecologically, but for it's importance as historical figure for this country.


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Created with images by Flying Kiwi Tours - "Forest, New Zealand" • Kiwi Tom - "Surrounded by mountains" • tjabeljan - "NewZealandFranzJosefGlacier007"

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