New Zealand's Natural Cover Weka
The Weka is a large, brown flightless bird with a famously feisty personality and an incurable curiosity. These two qualities made it an easy food source for Maori and early European settlers. Apparently able to resist man and his associated pests the Weka remained abundant only to vanish abruptly between 1915 and1940 from most of the North Island and parts of the South Island.
The bird was also present in the wider Gisborne area until the early 1980’s when it drastically and suddenly declined from a population of 88,000. Surveys of the area in 1991 and 1995 indicated the population had dropped to somewhere between 1000 and1500 birds. Its decline remains a mystery but as with so many species, in its own environment the Weka’s greatest chance of survival is provided by the camouflage and insulation of its plumage as its natural cover.
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