Threats to kiwiKiwi used to thrive in Aotearoa for millennia and numbered in their millions, their piercing calls filling the inky night. But in just a few hundred years, widespread clearing of forest and introduced predators have seen kiwi numbers crash.
How many kiwi are left?
It’s estimated there were once about 12 million kiwi, but by 1998 the population had plummeted to fewer than 100,000 birds. By 2008 that figure had fallen even further, to about 70,000. Today it’s estimated there are around 68,000 kiwis left and unmanaged kiwi populations continue to decline by 2% every year.
In areas where kiwi are being managed, the situation is improving and many populations are stable or increasing. These places include Department of Conservation kiwi sanctuaries, community-led projects (many of them sponsored by Save the Kiwi), and offshore island sanctuaries.
There is no room to relax, however. Many kiwi live outside managed areas and these populations are expected to continue to decline. Even within managed areas, uncontrolled dogs can kill many birds very quickly and still remain a big problem.
The hard facts
of all kiwi eggs fail to even hatch
of chicks that do hatch are dead within six months
of chicks are killed by stoats or cats
die of natural causes or at the jaws and claws of other predators
of kiwi chicks make it past six months old
or less reach adulthood
Why are kiwi going extinct?
Kiwi are being driven to extinction by three main threats: predators, lost habitat, and fragmented kiwi populations.
Kiwi have few defences against introduced predators like stoats and ferrets, and their native forest habitat has been dramatically reduced to make way for human habitation and farmland. Add the effects of early hunting and trapping, and kiwi populations are now fragmented and vulnerable.
As kiwi populations decline and become fragmented, sex ratios skew and the effective breeding population further declines, which could become a downward spiral towards extinction.
Learn more about kiwi
How you can help
Many hands make light work. Keen to join the mission to save the kiwi? Here are some ways you can help.