the endangered new zealand kiwi
The kiwi is synonymous with New Zealand, so much so that Australians endearingly refer to New Zealanders as 'kiwis' - people from the Land of the Kiwi. This unique bird, recognisable by its short squat body and elongated beak, is under threat. Its small, clawlike wings render the kiwi flightless; it must of necessity live on the ground. The kiwi is thus easy prey to marauding enemies such as humans and mammals.
When the great land mass of the south split 75 million years ago, the kiwi and many other ground-living bird species became separated from predatory mammals within what was later to become known as New Zealand. The birds were able to multiply and flourish because there were very few mammals landlocked within the islands. Kiwis have evolved certain mammalian characteristics over time, living on the ground and free as they were from attack by mammals.
However, when the Polynesians arrived about 1000 years ago bringing with them dogs and rats, the kiwi population and other vulnerable bird species soon suffered a severe reduction in numbers. The coming of the Europeans in the eighteenth century brought even more determined predators, including the cat and, especially, the stoat - a kind of weasel introduced to control rabbits. The stoat is a very vicious and efficient killer of kiwis.
There are six types of kiwi, and all six are threatened. Two are 'critically endangered' because they have populations of less than 250 mature birds. Two are 'endangered' meaning that it is estimated that within three generations their numbers will have declined by 50%. The other two are designated 'vulnerable' - one because its" habitat is shrinking, the other because it is potentially under threat from stoats and other mammals.
100 years ago there were more than 5 million North Island Brown Kiwis. Today, there are probably around 30,000, and the population is decreasing at a rate of 6% a year. Only the Little Spotted Kiwi is increasing because of successful attempts to transfer the creature to predator-free offshore islands. There are further reasons for hope. Trapping predators and rearing baby chicks for later release into the wild can have a dramatic effect on kiwi numbers; but it will be necessary to do so on a large scale.
It would be tragic if New Zealand were to lose its national symbol, the kiwi. Surely the strangest bird in existence, unable to fly, it sniffs out its food with a remarkably strong sense of smell. Its legs are powerful and muscular, for the kiwi is a burrower living in dens - some species even preferring tunnels, yet another similarity it shares with some mammals. But it cannot share its habitat with them without eventually losing the battle for survival.
Questions 1 - 5
The following is a summary of part of the reading passage "The Endangered New Zealand Kiwi". Complete each gap in the text by choosing the best word, number or phrase from the box below the notes. Write your answers in boxes 1 - 5 on your Answer Sheet.
Note that there are more choices in the box than gaps. You will not need to use all the choices given, but you may use a word, number or phrase more than once.
The kiwi, a unique bird native to New Zealand, is under. …(Ex:).... threat…… For millions of years kiwis flourished on the islands free from predatory mammals and from……(1)……..
The arrival of the Polynesians some 1000 years ago was a disaster for all……(2)….. birds because they brought with them dogs and rats - the natural enemies of ground-living creatures such as kiwis. But it was the introduction of the………(3)…….that caused the kiwi population to drop to its present level of around 30,000 birds. A particularly vicious killer, this weasel-like mammal was brought in to control rabbits.The kiwi, with its short squat body, long…….(4)……. and powerful sense of smell, is one of the strangest of all the world' s birds. Unless decisive action is taken soon to control the number of unfriendly mammals within the kiwi's……..(5)……., New Zealanders could lose their national symbol.