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Keywords:

  • community involvement;
  • conservation science;
  • Philesturnus rufusater;
  • translocation

Abstract

The World Conservation Union (1987) defines a translocation as a release of animals with the intention of establishing, reestablishing, or augmenting an existing population. Despite frequent use as a tool for the management of threatened and endangered wildlife, the full benefits of translocations often go unrealized. In this article, I demonstrate how translocations can achieve outputs for conservation management, conservation science, and the wider human community, using North Island (NI) Saddleback or Tieke (Philesturnus rufusater) as an illustrative example. From a conservation management perspective, NI Saddleback have been salvaged from a relic population of less than 500 birds on 484-ha Hen Island to a metapopulation of approximately 6,000 birds on 13 offshore islands and at two mainland New Zealand sites. These translocations have reduced the risk of global extinction for this species and helped restore the ecosystems involved. All these translocations have occurred in the past 42 years from known source populations and with known numbers of birds released. The resulting replicated serial population bottlenecks provide numerous scientific opportunities for conservation and biological research. Although the first Saddleback translocations were to reserves closed to the public, subsequent translocations have been to open reserves, providing the wider human community with an opportunity to see and be actively involved in the management of a threatened endemic species. This has raised the profile of both NI Saddleback and other species and has provided wider community conservation benefits. These three outputs illustrate the value of translocations for resource management and conservation science and for increasing community interest, participation, and investment in biological conservation.