Meet Tītapu

 

Advocacy and logistics ranger Bronwyn Jeynes recently accompanied kākāpō Tītapu on her transfer from Pukenui/Anchor Island to Whenua Hou.

 

Name:  Tītapu

Sex: Female

Mother: Hine Taumai

Father: Takitimu

Hatch date: 21st February 2016

 

 

Tītapu as a chick being hand reared. Photo by Lisa Argilla.

 

Tītapu was hand reared during the busy 2016 breeding season. If you were lucky enough to get to visit the older kākāpō chicks at the hand rearing facility in Invercargill, you possibly saw this lovely girl. Right from the get go she was curious and full of energy!

She is the oldest of Hine Taumai’s 2016 three egg clutch, and the first successful offspring for both Hine Taumai and Takitimu. She was named by Michael Skerrett after the daughter of the woman Hine Taumai, and her two siblings are also named following this theme.

As she approached fledging age Tītapu was moved to Pukenui/Anchor island along with the other chicks she’d been reared with for weaning and then release onto the island. Weaning is an interesting time for hand reared chicks. While in captivity they are exposed to a wide range of natural food sources, provided with logs, branches and puddles to climb and play with and even sprayed lightly with water to teach them about rain and to find shelter but even our best efforts can’t replicate the diversity of outside life. For instance, the first windy day in the pen on the island the chicks were seen to be running around, wings in the air, with excitement and surprise as they’d never seen leaves blowing past them before!

 

Tītapu shortly after release on Pukenui. Photo by Andrew Digby

 

Following release, Tītapu and her fellow chicks were checked regularly to ensure they were maintaining their weight and weren’t getting too wet and muddy as they came to grips with living in the wild. For a while they hung around together before dispersing to explore the island and establish their own territories. Some chicks roam a lot once they’ve become independent, exploring the edges of the islands and the different vegetation types. Others don’t go too far and settle relatively close to mum.

Tītapu clearly didn’t have itchy feet, and established her territory relatively close to the hut. Why hike miles when there’s food and space nearby, right? Her chosen home meant that it was very easy for the team to find her for her health checks and juvenile vaccines, but also meant that occasionally a bit of a hazard as she’d pop up underneath your feet when rangers were walking home at night.

Between this and the fact that her family is well represented on Pukenui, it was decided earlier this year that it would be best for Tītapu to be moved to Whenua Hou to establish a new home there. She would have moved to the island as a part of our ongoing genetic management of the population in a few years anyway so moving her early was an effective solution to the risks she faced living close to the activity of the hut site.

In early August, Tītapu was caught and placed into a travel crate, along with plenty of food and water for the trip.

 

Bronnie releases Tītapu on Whenua Hou. Photo by Juanita Tressider.

 

Despite a long transfer day involving two helicopter flights and a car trip Tītapu was clearly eager and interested upon arrival on Whenua Hou. She made opening the crate door challenging by nibbling on Bronnie’s fingers, and immediately popped her head out to view her surroundings. She took her time to actually exit the crate, bobbing her head to gauge her surroundings and tasting the plants within reach. She was in no particular rush to leave, and even once out of the crate spent some time excited exploring the surrounding area before heading off further into the bush.

We’ll be checking on Tītapu regularly to ensure that she settles in safely over the next couple of months, but expect that she’ll take it in her stride as she has every other phase of her journey so far. Welcome to life in the deep south Tītapu!