Working together to ensure that the takahē is never again considered extinct.
For more than 65 years, attempts to save takahē have pioneered conservation techniques for protected species in New Zealand and in the world. Today the work of a small dedicated team of DOC takahē rangers is well supported and enhanced by iwi, scientists, volunteers, and the public and private organisations that provide safe homes and care for the growing breeding takahē and those birds now retired from the breeding programme.
Our work includes takahē breeding, research, monitoring, releases, and pest control.
declared extinct in this year
chicks raised per year by a breeding pair
individuals in 2020
Department of Conservation
The ultimate goal of the Takahē Recovery Programme is to return takahē to the wild. To achieve this, the Programme focuses on protecting and monitoring the wild populations, intensively managing the genetic health and productivity of those birds in the breeding programme and identifying suitable future wild sites. The total estimated takahē population has doubled since 2007 and over the past five years it has experienced a 10% average annual growth rate. This growth has enabled growth in the security population and large annual releases into the wild, bringing the Murchison Mountains population to near carrying capacity and allowing the reintroduction of takahē into Kahurangi National Park.
Essential to the Takahē Recovery Programme’s achievements has been the support of partners Ngāi Tahu and, since 2016, civil engineering company Fulton Hogan. The Programme is also supported by the NZ Nature Fund and the network of organisations that keep takahē safe around the country.
Takahē in the wild
We’re working to control introduced threats to takahē so they continue to exist in their natural home. In the wild, takahē inhabit native grassland environments and it is considered that takahē are well suited to cooler, damp, fertile areas. Their diet is highly fibrous, eating predominantly the starchy leaf bases of tussock and sedge species. At sanctuaries, takahē diets are supplemented with specially developed pellets. Breeding annually, raising 1-2 chicks per year, takahē pairs will fiercely defend their territories. Takahē families need a lot of space, with territories ranging between 4-100ha, depending on the availability and quality of food sources. Takahē have special cultural, spiritual and traditional significance to Ngāi Tahu, the iwi (Māori tribe) of most of New Zealand’s South Island. Ngāi Tahu value takahē as a taonga (treasure) and they continue to act as kaitiaki (guardians) of the takahē, working alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC) to protect this precious species.
Takahē once roamed the South Island, but pressures from hunting, introduced predators, habitat destruction and competition for food lead to their decline. After being presumed extinct for nearly 50 years, the takahē was famously rediscovered in 1948. Geoffrey Orbell, a physician from Invercargill and his party, found the last remaining wild population of takahē, high in the tussock grasslands of the remote Murchison Mountains, above Lake Te Anau, Fiordland. For more than 70 years, measures to ensure takahē are never again considered extinct have included: pioneering conservation techniques for endangered species, captive breeding, island translocations and wild releases. Today, takahē are classified as Nationally Vulnerable, with a population nearing 450 birds (October 2020). The population is made up of an estimated 141 breeding pairs and their offspring. DOC’s Takahē Recovery Programme is working hard to grow this number and return birds to the wild.
Support the Takahē Recovery Programme
Help us to ensure that the takahē is never again considered extinct.