Cee Cee, one of the best-known rowi kiwi, was found dead on the side of Ökärito Road on May 13. As a highly successful breeding male, his death has come as a huge blow to the critically endangered kiwi species.
“Cee Cee’s death serves as an important reminder for people to keep their speed down and keep an eye out for kiwi when travelling in areas where these birds are found after dark,” says Department of Conservation (DOC) Rowi Team Leader, Duncan Kay.
“At this time of year it gets dark early and the sun rises late, so the kiwi are going to be out and about for much longer than in summer.”
Cee Cee has been known to the DOC Franz Josef Rowi Team for more than seven years, and many local volunteers have learned about rowi through meeting him. He was raised in captivity from the early days of BNZ Operation Nest EggTM during the 1996/97 breeding season.
“His territory had always been quite close to Ökärito Road, and he had already lost two partners to cars as well as having been hit once himself. To make matters worse, earlier this year Cee Cee’s territory was irresponsibly set ablaze, but he managed to escape the fire unscathed,” said Duncan.
“He has been a great father, producing an egg with his partner each year since 2007. Last year his partner laid two eggs, and the chicks are currently growing up on predator-free Motuara Island until they are big enough to defend themselves from stoats.”
At the young age of 13 (rowi can live up to 80 years), Cee Cee had a long life ahead of him with the potential of producing another 50-60 chicks. That number of chicks equates to around 15% of the current rowi population and reflects the great loss this is for the rare birds.
Cee Cee was found after The Sky Ranger plane (part of DOC’s world-leading aerial tracking system for kiwi) detected a transmitter signal showing a possible mortality. His body has been sent away for an autopsy to confirm cause of death.