I ♥ Rifleman
Guest blogger: Campaign Manager for the Rifleman & former Chair of the Supporters for Tiritiri Matangi, Simon Fordham
Please note: Because of wind damage, we had to cut parts of Simon’s campaign speech out, to view the full transcript see below
Hi, my name is Simon Fordham. Last February, I was privileged to be part of a team that translocated 31 riflemen from Hauturu / Little Barrier Island to Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
At only 8 centimetres & 7 grams, the rifleman, or titipounamu, is New Zealand’s smallest bird and it belongs to an endemic family of birds. Sadly, five of the seven species in this family have become extinct since the arrival of humans in this country. Only the rock wren and rifleman survive.
The rifleman is locally common as there are many places where they can be easily seen. However, they are now officially classified as “At Risk / Declining”. There are so many places where they used to be yet are now extinct.
Riflemen are not known for flying over open pasture so, as our forests have become more and more fragmented, the loss of these beautiful birds from any block of bush tends to be permanent.
Although New Zealand forests do not boast an abundance of avian species, we do have some of the most beautiful. Right up there is the titipounamu – our little piece of greenstone. Whilst not necessarily obvious when viewed from a distance, up close, this is a stunning bird.
So often species have become endangered, and sadly too many have become extinct, because the early signs of decline have not been recognized. With rifleman, we can act before it is too late.
Firstly, we must put a halt to continued decline by protecting habitats where they are still abundant.
We can increase their range by reintroducing them to forests where they used to exist and are now in the process of being restored.
We also need to raise the profile of this little gem by voting for Rifleman – Bird of the Year 2009.