Worldwide Species Action Plans
The takahe or notornis (Porphyrio hochstetteri Trewick, 1996; previouslyknown as Notornis mantelli Owen, 1848) is a large, flightless, endemic rail, oncethought to be extinct, as there had been only four confirmed sightings between1898 and 1948. However, locations of unconfirmed reports between 1898 and1948 suggested that takahe survived during this period throughout FiordlandNational Park, and in pockets spread along the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o teMoana as far as the northwest of the South Island (Reid 1974). An expeditionin 1948, led by Doctor Geoffrey Orbell, located a population in the MurchisonMountains, Fiordland National Park. Surveys subsequently found about 250 birdsin the valleys of the Murchison Mountains and neighbouring ranges. Soon aftertakahe were rediscovered in 1948, the 503-km2 Takahe Special Area was set asidefor their conservation within the Murchison Mountains (Fig. 1).In the two decades following 1948, a large amount of information on the naturalhistory of takahe was collected, and intensive research commenced in 1972 todetermine the species? ecological requirements, breeding biology and populationsize (e.g. Mills 1975).By the 1970s, the takahe population in Fiordland had declined dramatically andit appeared that the species was in danger of extinction. The takahe populationreached an estimated low of 112 birds in 1981.