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‘Extinct’ South Island bird kokako could still be alive

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 19:32

Zee Media Bureau

New Zealand: A South Island bird `kokako`, previously thought to be extinct, may still be alive, according to the Ornithological Society, which monitors rare and endangered birds species.

A native New Zealand bird, the South Island kokako, was last seen in Mt Aspiring National Park in 1967, and was declared extinct in 2007.

However, two people claimed to have seen the bird on the West Coast near Reefton in 2007 and the sighting has been accepted by the Ornithological Society’s Record Appraisal Committee. Also between 1990 and 2008, 10 more sightings were found to be “probable” or “possible”.

Based on 11 claimed sightings, earlier this month, the New Zealand Threat Classification System has changed the bird’s classification from “extinct” to “data deficient”.

The committee’s decision was hailed by Forest & Bird member Alec Milne, who claims to have both seen and heard the South Island kokako.

While it was still uncertain as to whether the bird was alive, this was the best sign yet, said Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

“New Zealand is thought to have lost over 50 bird species. If just one of those extinctions turns out not to have happened, it would be incredibly good news,” he added.

The orange-wattled South Island kokako is a different species from the endangered North Island kokako, which has blue wattles.

First Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 19:32

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