Conservation of Endangered Species
When people first came to New Zealand, they began to change the land around them. They cut down forests and brought new animals into the country, such as sheep, cows, rats, cats, dogs, stoats, weasels, opossums, deer, pigs, goats, and rabbits. The plants and animals that had survived in isolation from the time of the dinosaurs began to disappear from much of New Zealand.
The flightless birds that had evolved in a place without predators were vulnerable to attack from stoats, dogs and cats. Other animals brought to the islands ate the same food as the native birds, making it even harder for the birds to survive. The birds also saw the destruction of their habitat; native forest that once covered most of New Zealand was reduced to undesirable land or small areas in the mountains. Forty kinds of birds, including eleven types of giant birds called moas, disappeared forever and became extinct.
Today, people in New Zealand are protecting the plants and animals that remain. Islands off the mainland are being used as refuges for native birds. On an island called Tiri Tiri Matangi, a quarter of a million native trees were planted by volunteers, and rare birds have been taken there to breed. On the mainland, farmers are now planting native bush and are trapping and removing predators from their land.
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Want to learn more about conservation efforts in New Zealand? Explore these Web sites for more information.