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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1985) 30(2): 199–208
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
Present status of the kokako [Calleas cinerea] and implications for forest management.

J. C. Halkett

The kokako, a member of New Zealand's ancient endemic wattlebird family, began to decline in numbers and become restricted in distribution towards the end of the 19th century. This was probably because of its vulnerability to predation, and later to the removal or modification of its habitat, and competition for food with introduced mammals. Kokako utilise a wide diversity of food species and types. They are "sequential specialists" relying on particular foods at certain times of the year.
The survival of kokako in West Taupo forest areas scheduled for logging became the focal point of debate and research in 1978. A substantial number of kokako were detected in Puketi forest in 1979 and kauri timber production was suspended to facilitate an investigation of habitat use and needs with a view to predicting the effect of selective logging on the species.
The impact of past logging cannot be used to reliably predict the effect of recently developed low impact timber removal techniques on kokako populations. Some evidence might be considered to suggest that factors other than timber removal may put the long-term survival of kokako at considerable risk. However, the bird's perpetuation can only be assured if sufficient suitable habitat is available. Currently it would seem prudent to resolve forest management decisions in a manner which favours the kokako.

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