825. They were pleased with themselves


(This is based on a true incident)

There was no other thing for it. The isolated island was home to four of the few remaining takahe birds in the world. But the island population of pukeko had exploded. Both species of bird shared the same environmental conditions. Both were swamp dwellers. Pukeko were common. They had to be killed to give the takahe a chance. Besides, pukeko were everywhere on the mainland. There was no need to protect them. Only about 300 takahe remained in the world.

The Deerstalkers Association volunteered to cull the pukeko. A day was arranged. Seven hunters took to the island.

They returned to the mainland in the evening.

“We got them!” they said. They were pleased with themselves. For a while…

Can you tell the difference? Which is which?

761takahe2 761takahe3

38 thoughts on “825. They were pleased with themselves

  1. thecontentedcrafter

    I always had trouble remembering which was which – until the family thing kicked in to my consciousness. Pukeko are so quarrelsome! And who wouldn’t be a bit tetchy when a new batch of eggs hatches three times a year and another half dozen little ‘uns are running around your feet. I took one of my classes camping one year by Lake Horowhenua and we were woken every morning by the most outrageous family ‘discussions’ as the brood fought over breakfast and mama tried her best to keep some order. They really are hilarious birds! Also Takahe are much rounder – I guess from not having to contend with the same kind of family dynamics 🙂

    Did that really happen Bruce – I do hope the outcome wasn’t completely catastrophic.

  2. Cynthia Jobin

    I’ve never heard of these before….but it seems reasonable to think that being able to fly is a distinct advantage over not being able to fly, when it comes to survival.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      The pukeko fly a bit like a wild turkey – a couple of hundred yards here and there. Takahe are too big and heavy and I don’t think they’ve got wings anyway. One of the things you MIGHT find interesting is that the plural (in New Zealand English) of Maori words doesn’t use the “s”. There were 12 kiwi. Thousands of pukeko and 4 takahe… ! I’m not sure how that happened.

      1. Cynthia Jobin

        That IS interesting….it’s like we say haiku, and not haikus….in poetry circles…..and someone once told me it was déclassé to say “hors d”oeuvres” sounding the plural “s” . Maybe it has something to do with saying a “foreign” word while speaking English.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yes, both survive – but the takahe was thought extinct for about 50 years and then they found a small colony of them and it has grown from a few birds to about 300. They are about the size of a turkey.

  3. Andrea Stephenson

    I made a donation recently to the kakapo project after hearing about how hard it is for them to survive. I often feel that these attempts to get rid of one species to save another will always backfire.


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