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Man meddles, nature suffers


The introduction of stoats into the New Zealand ecosystem has proven devastating for the island nation's endangered takahe, a rare species of flightless bird.

First brought to New Zealand as an attempt to control feral rabbits (themselves an introduced species), the weasel-like stoats have instead turned to other, easier-to-catch prey. Recently, they have killed and eaten nearly 60% of the population of takahe. When you consider than the takahe population was just 200 a few years ago, the loss of so many birds could lead to the species' immediate extinction.

A recent survey found just 94 takahe at their prime habitat in the Takahe Valley. An additional 70 birds have been moved to a nearby, predator-free island where the stoat is not a threat.

 

The takahe was once thought extinct, but a few birds were rediscovered in 1948. As recently as 2004, takehe populations were on the upswing. Let's hope this new threat doesn't cuase us to lose them once again.