Saving Species by Moving Them

Some species exist in only one habitat. Lose that habit, or introduce a risk to that habitat, and you lose the species.

Two operations are hoping to prevent such an occurrence by moving two endangered birds to new islands, in hopes of creating new habitats and healthy secondary populations.

In New Zealand, the Department of Conservation is considering creating back-up populations of two rare West Coast kiwi species by moving them to nearby islands where they won't face the same predators. The move would allow conservation teams more flexibility to increase the numbers of the incredibly rare Haast Tokoeka and Okarito Brown (or rowi) kiwi.

Meanwhile, Japan's Environment Ministry has decided to move ten endangered short-tailed albatross chicks from their traditional breeding ground on Torishima island to another island 300km away -- all to avoid the species going extinct if a volcano erupts on Torishima. The science behind this, as reported in The Daily Yomiuri, is quite interesting:

"Only chicks that are about 40 days old will be relocated as they cannot remember their birthplace at this age--an important point as short-tailed albatross instinctively want to return to the island where they were raised. Short-tailed albatross decoys will be placed on Mukojima and their calls will be broadcast in an attempt to have the chicks recognize the island as their birthplace."

Relocating species can be incredibly expensive and risky. Let's hope these programs work out for the best.

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