Kiwi Bird Rescued from Mine Shaft

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Besides kiwi birds becoming severely endangered, their fragile bodies, lack of flying abilities and poor eyesight can cause them to fall into many traps. This is how a great spotted kiwi bird fell into a mine shaft in a remote valley north of Greymouth, New Zealand.


Luckily for the bird, a worker at the Department of Conservation came to its rescue after a member of the public heard its calls. Trevor Ellen was tramping in the headwaters of the Ten Mile Valley when he heard the kiwi’s call. He then followed the call to find a great spotted kiwi down the hole in the area which is full of abandoned coalmines and shafts, some of which being more than 100 years old.

The bird “was down in an old sinkhole from the 1800s, like a mine shaft. I couldn’t get him out on my own, so we went back the next day”, said Ellen.

The next day, Ellen returned early in the morning accompanied by Department of Conservation ranger Gavin Collins. The two embarked on a three-hour rescue mission.

The ranger attached a rope to a punga tree and lowered himself down. When he reached the bottom, the bird did not run away and let him pick it up. Either the kiwi was a juvenile, or it senses that the ranger was only trying to help it. The little bird droppings caused Collins to think that the kiwi had only been there a few days.

Working for the Department of Conservation, Gavin Collins said that he is used to climbing. However, his job requires his climbing skills more usually when it comes to checking out bat roosting sites.

Asked what were the chances of someone hearing the kiwi bird up the remote valley, he said it was “probably the luckiest kiwi around”. The bird was released back into the nearby bush to find its way back into the wild.