- Conservation status
- In serious trouble
The southern dotterel has quite a different lifestyle to their northern counterparts, basing their nests on the mountaintops of Rakiura Stewart Island and commuting down to the beach for some kai. Sometimes they even pop across Foveaux Strait to Southland's coastline to grab a feed. There are fewer than 150 southern New Zealand dotterels left.
Once upon a time, these birds bred on the mainland and up in the Southern Alps, with one intrepid couple recorded breeding at nearly 2500m above sea level! But introduced predators like stoats dealt a huge blow to these mountain-faring shorebirds. The remaining Rakiura dotterels continue to face threats – from feral cats and even deer, which have been observed eating their eggs.
Daniel is born and raised in Southland and has been volunteering with the Southern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu since he was 15 years old. Since then, he has watched the birds decline year after year. There are currently estimated to be only 144 Southern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu left in the world! Now 21 years old, he is in his last year of study completing his Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology and minoring in Māori studies at the University of Otago.
In a last-ditch attempt to save this bird from extinction Daniel is campaigning the tūturiwhatu for bird of the year in an attempt to raise awareness for the bird so that more funding can be secured for the conservation effort before they become extinct.