New Zealanders donate over $326,000 to NZ’s most endangered native bird

12 Jun 2024
An urgent fundraising campaign to save the critically endangered Southern NZ Dotterel has raised over 75% of its five-year target in just 10 months.


The New Zealand Nature Fund (NZNF) raises funds from the public to fight against extinction of our most endangered native species. In October last year, the NZNF committed to an urgent $400,000 public fundraising campaign to assist the Department of Conservation (DOC) to save the Southern New Zealand Dotterel from extinction.

The Southern NZ Dotterel is a unique New Zealand native shore bird because it flies to alpine areas during its breeding season. The birds nest on the alpine tops of Rakiura (Stewart Island) from September until January and when their chicks are old enough to return to the mudflats and estuaries of the Southland coast. 

Initially the NZNF and DOC agreed on a five-year funding plan for the Dotterel project. However, NZNF CEO, Sarah Lyttle says when DOC’s annual bird count was released in April, the situation became much more urgent. 

“When DOC’s annual bird count in April indicated a 19% decline in the population to 101 birds, after a 13% decline in 2023, we knew we needed to secure the funds faster to try and save this precious bird.” 

Lyttle says the NZNF received a large number of donations in May when the public became aware of the latest bird count and following an event to raise awareness about the Southern NZ Dotterel in Invercargill. Forest and Bird’s Southland branch donated $20,000 to the project and last week a $200,000 donation was made by a NZ charitable trust which wishes to remain anonymous. 

She says it was a wonderful feeling being able to call the DOC Southern NZ Dotterel rangers at Rakiura and let them know that there was now $326,000 available to boost DOC’s efforts ahead of the 2024/25 nesting season. 

DOC believes a total of 41 adult Southern NZ Dotterel were killed by feral cats on Rakiura last breeding season. That’s despite the DOC ranger team killing 32 feral cats across the bird’s breeding sites on Rakiura. 

DOC Southern NZ Dotterel Ranger Daniel Cocker says it has been incredible to see the support from Kiwis in response to the population drop this year. He describes the additional funds as a game changer in the fight to save the bird from extinction. 

“We are looking to take full advantage of these funds and put them towards cutting more trapping lines for feral cat control, hiring additional temporary staff for the breeding season, upgrading trapping infrastructure and installing additional field bivvies to provide accommodation and gear storage for rangers working in the remote areas where the dotterels breed,” says Cocker. 

All donations to the NZ Nature Fund are provided directly to the Southern NZ Dotterel team to increase their resources to respond to the predators and monitor the birds. 

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