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Rewards grows for extinct bird sightings

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/04/2017

An endangered Kokako © mlharing/Getty Images An endangered Kokako New Zealanders able to provide confirmed sightings of what might be the world's rarest bird are set to land themselves an even greater cash reward.

A trust dedicated to the South Island kokako has since January been offering $5000 for information leading to confirmation the bird is still alive.

But with a second conservation trust now jumping on board, the reward has been bumped up to $10,000.

While it has been classified as extinct since the 1970s, compelling reports of sightings of the kokako in recent years has resulted in official recognition it may yet still exist.

It has also convinced South Island Kokako Charitable Trust trustee Nigel Babbage it is alive.

"Those reports have come from Stewart Island, Fiordland, South Westland and all the way up to Kahurangi National Park and the Marlborough Sounds," he said.

"I'd like to encourage all back-country enthusiasts to be our eyes and ears out there and to log possible encounters on the South Island Kokako Trust's website."

If found, the South Island kokako would not be the first bird believed extinct to be rediscovered.

The takahe, Chatham Island taiko and NZ storm petrel were all also rediscovered.

Despite having a recognisable call, one trouble in confirming the South Island kokako's existence has been that its song is similar to a tui.

For this reason, the trust has appealed for verifiable photographs or other physical evidence of the kokako's survival rather than claims to have heard its calls.

The trust will appraise any evidence received and submit the most compelling information for independent expert analysis.

The $10,000 reward will be paid once a panel of New Zealand's expert ornithologists agree the bird exists.

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