Many of New Zealand's unique bird species, like kiwis, are under threat from rats, stoats, possums and other invasive species. But New Zealand has an ambitious plan underway to make the country predator-free by 2050.

The kiwi, the national symbol of New Zealand, is a chicken-sized flightless bird that is listed as an endangered species.
The kiwi, the national symbol of New Zealand, is a chicken-sized flightless bird that is listed as an endangered species.

Many of New Zealand's unique bird species are under threat from rats, stoats and possums. But a radical new plan is underway to make the country predator-free by 2050.

The idea is to give a second chance to the distinctive birds that once ruled this South Pacific nation.

TRT World's Nick Davies Jones reports.

When New Zealand split away from the supercontinent Gondwanaland 85 million years ago, predatory mammals hadn't evolved. That allowed birds to thrive. Some gave up flight altogether to strut about the forest floor.

Then humans arrived, bringing predators with them. Rats stowed away on ships.

Settlers introduced brushtail possums - an Australian species unrelated to North American opossums - for the fur trade and weasel-like stoats to control rabbits.

The pests destroyed forest habitats and feasted on the birds and their eggs. More than 40 species of birds died out and many others remain threatened, including the iconic kiwi.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies