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Conservation plan at Kea Konvention

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/04/2017

Kea, the serial peckers of cars left in mountain parks, are feeling the love.

The first NZ Kea Konvention at Arthur's Pass, a village in New Zealand's Southern Alps, this weekend attracted the likes of mountaineer Peter Hillary, son of Mt Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary.

He's a fan of keas as well as mountains.

The Department of Conservation proposed a kea recovery plan at the Konvention.

Conservation lobby group Forest & Bird is welcoming the plan but warns it will fail without new money.

The Konvention attendees heard kea are under attack from predators including stoats and feral cats.

Breeding success for kea is about five per cent in areas where there are stoat plagues but this rises to 80 per cent when there is predator-control.

"With only 20 per cent of kea range currently getting the benefits of landscape scale predator control, the government will need to scale up its efforts to protect kea," says Forest & Bird spokesman Geoff Keey.

DOC and South Island tribe Ngai Tahu are working together to protect kea.

"The results of kea monitoring in Kahurangi National Park shows that landscape scale predator control has allowed the kea population to bounce back," says Mr Keey.

"As well as more government funding to protect kea from predators, funding is also needed to make DOC huts, high country properties and alpine villages lead free. Lead on buildings is killing kea."

"Kea are the world's only alpine parrot, the world's smartest bird and an icon of the Southern Alps. Yet they are heading for extinction and that would be a tragedy."

The parrots are famous for snacking on windshield wipers of cars and looting any food left unprotected by hikers but they are well loved birds, according to posts on travel websites.

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