If you are interested in helping kea become lead-free by sponsoring a kea receiving treatment, starting up a local project or donating materials, funding or your expertise, please get in contact with us. For a list of what we need, please scroll down to the bottom of the page. Thank you!
One of the main identified threats to kea is lead. Monitoring by Department of Conservation (DOC) since 2006 has shown that lead toxicity in kea is widespread throughout the species range, wherever kea and humans overlap (McInnes, 2010). Testing of 42 Mt Cook kea (Reid et al, 2012) found all to have detectable blood lead levels, 32 considered elevated. An additional 5 out of 12 dead kea tested were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Lead, is sweet and malleable and as such is highly attractive to kea. As a toxic heavy metal, it accumulates in the birds body causing nervous system damage, organ failure and eventually death.
How do Kea get lead poisoning?
Lead is present as paint, flashings and nail heads in many buildings that were built prior to the 1990’s and until it is removed from the South Island, Kea will continue to test for lead and to die of lead poisoning at an alarming rate.
However, the good news is that kea CAN be treated for lead poisoning and lead products CAN be removed and replaced with non-toxic alternatives, but to do this we need your help!
Watch how Dr Laura Young tests wild kea for blood poisoning in this short video by Mat Goodman and Brooke Segerberg.
How bad is the problem?
Because kea access lead from a number of sources ( particularly old buildings, huts and lead shot), they are at risk whether in backcountry locations such as the Perth catchment on the West Coast or around human habitation such as Arthur’s Pass.
This project aims to decrease the threat of lead to kea through initiation of a 5 step process:
i) testing blood lead levels in kea throughout their south island range,
ii) facilitating community treatment of affected kea,
iii) identifying sources of lead in the environment and facilitating their removal,
iv) replacing lead products with nontoxic alternatives as funding allows and
v) raising of funds and support to support community efforts.
South Island communities have expressed a commitment to protect local remnant kea populations from threats such as lead. Extensive community collaboration has already been activated with the KCT and DOC working alongside the wider community throughout the South Island with a number of lead removal initiatives been initiated in South Island communities this year. This project aims to activate and support all communities within kea habitat.
We rely on passionate people in our communities to help rid kea of the lead threat. If you would like to join this drive to make our environment lead-free for kea, please contact us!
Our project partners include sponsors/donors, veterinary support, wildlife parks for rehabilitation, de-leading volunteers and the many volunteers transporting sick kea for treatment. To date these include the following:
Sponsors/Donors (over $1,000):
- Franz SkyDive – $9,180 for West Coast kea
- Clever Kiwi Company – $5,000 for Arthur’s Pass kea
- Christopher Hynes – $2,000
- Hornby Veterinary Clinic
- South Island Wildlife Hospital
- Vetent -Queenstown
- The Wildlife Hospital – Dunedin
- Wildbase – Massey University
- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (Christchurch)
- Kiwi Birdlife Park (Queenstown)
Getting our message out there! Our PR crew
- Daniel Sweeney – Total Brand
- Mat Goodman (Nomad Collection) and Brooke Segerberg
What we need to help make this project a success:
- Funding – even small donations will help us kick start local community projects! We need funding for roofing products, contractors, medical supplies, lead test strips, fuel for volunteer transporters, project coordination and on-going care of kea in rehabilitation.
- Non-toxic alternatives to lead – we need flashings and techscrews to replace old lead products.
- Roofing contractors – we need registered contractors (with their own H&S) to replace lead products. If you are able to donate your time or help your community at a reduced rate, please get in contact with us!
- Vets – we need more vets around the South island (particularly in remote areas) to help with initial stabilisation of sick kea and to help with chelation therapy.
- Kea transporters – sick kea in remote areas which need specialist care need to be transported to some of our larger centres for transfer or care.
Sponsor a sick kea needing treatment!
Every kea returning blood lead results of over 20ug/dL will be sent to one of our veterinary partners for chelation therapy. This treatment is costly, and although vets are providing much of their services for free to help these kea, we need to support them by raising funds for the medicines that will ultimately save these birds lives.
We will be listing photos and details of each kea requiring treatment as we receive them here. We need to raise $1,500 per kea to help support their treatment, so if you are able to make a donation of $100 or more, please contact us at email@example.com.