Mood: crushed out
Topic: "Out of the Ashes" (4)
750 years ago, Polynesians, with rats in their canoes, were the first humans to inhabit New Zealand. Later came the Europeans, bringing cats, dogs, rabbits and other creatures who ran riot, eating the local wildlife, or stealing their lunch. Today, New Zealand has one of the worst bio-depletion rates in all the world; more than 30 percent, some 51 species, of native birds for example, no longer exist.
Individuals, businesses, colleges and local governments have joined to form a nonprofit trust wildlife sanctuary known as Kaori. One of their programs is an effort to restore one square mile of land within the sanctuary to its pre-human state. As described by the curator of the threatened species program, the lush forests were once "populated by some pretty weird and unusual primitive animals." At the crux of this gargantuan effort stands the fate of New Zealand's national emblem, the kiwi.
The squat, flightless bird looks like the product of a tryst between an anteater and a hamster. It has furlike plumage with a quill-like beak, and a rather nasty demeanor to boot. The bird is however, New Zealand's bald eagle, appearing on the currency, and lending its name to the fruit as well to the New Zealanders name for himself, as in "I'm a kiwi, mate, and proud of it."
Kiwis actually came down from the trees as birds, choosing never to go back, and were therefore fodder for the ecological disasters that accompanied mankind to their home turf. In the year 2000, little spotted kiwi, the smallest and rarest of the species, were released into the Kaori mainland from a breeding sanctuary on a small island off the coast of new Zealand. Within a year, the first chick was born, and today the park expects to count nearly 40 new offspring.
This vignette is offered on this day for a very special reason. That first spotted kiwi chick was named for a character in a certain movie, filmed in New Zealand.
Merry Christmas, dear reader, from Frodo, nasty demeanor and all.