Kea play a vitally important part in maintaining the health of our alpine ecosystems through distribution of seed in high country areas (Young et al, 2012) and potentially pollination of native vegetation (Young pers comm, 2017). They are also known to eat larvae that live inside mountain daises which would otherwise predate on the flowers (ibid) and have also been observed scavenging carcasses of Himalayan thar (Schwing, 2010). As such they may also play a vital ‘regulator’ and ‘cleaner’ role in the ecosystem similar to wolves in Yellowstone National Park. They are also considered iconic to the South Island mountain landscapes and a taonga species and as such their presence is part and parcel of the high country conservation estate. Losing them would not only be a national tragedy but may also have far reaching implications, as yet unknown, to the health of our South Island ecosystems. As a keystone endemic species, ensuring their continued survival, will only benefit the long-term health of the ecosystem they evolved within and are a vital part of.
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