Chatham Petrel: The Fascinating Story of its Recovery


The Chatham Petrel, also known as the Pterodroma axillaris, is a seabird species that is endemic to the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. This bird is of significant ecological and cultural importance, and its recovery efforts have gained international attention. In this article, we will take a closer look at the fascinating story of the Chatham Petrel’s recovery and explore the various factors that have contributed to its success.

History and Ecology

The Chatham Petrel is a medium-sized seabird that measures approximately 40 cm in length and has a wingspan of around 100 cm. This bird is a pelagic species that spends most of its life at sea, returning to the Chatham Islands only to breed. The Chatham Petrel breeds in burrows on the forested hillsides of the Chatham Islands, where it lays a single egg each year.

The Chatham Petrel has had a tumultuous history, with the species almost facing extinction due to predation by introduced mammals such as rats and feral cats. However, thanks to the efforts of dedicated conservationists and volunteers, the Chatham Petrel population has been steadily increasing in recent years.

Recovery Efforts

The recovery efforts for the Chatham Petrel began in the early 1990s when a small team of conservationists started working to eradicate rats from the Chatham Islands. The team used a combination of trapping, poisoning, and baiting to eliminate the rats, which were the main predators of the Chatham Petrel. After several years of hard work, the team was successful in eradicating rats from the main islands of the Chatham group.

In addition to the eradication of rats, several other measures have been put in place to protect and conserve the Chatham Petrel. These measures include the monitoring of breeding populations, the protection of breeding sites, the control of other predators such as feral cats, and the establishment of artificial burrows to provide additional breeding habitat.

Current Status and Threats

The Chatham Petrel is currently listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. While the species has shown signs of recovery in recent years, it is still under threat from a variety of factors, including habitat loss, predation, and climate change. Read about the weka bird.

Conservation Measures

To ensure the long-term survival of the Chatham Petrel, several conservation measures have been put in place. These measures include ongoing predator control, habitat restoration, the monitoring of breeding populations, and public education and outreach programs.


The Chatham Petrel is a fascinating and important species that has faced many challenges over the years. However, thanks to the efforts of dedicated conservationists and volunteers, the species is making a remarkable recovery. By continuing to implement effective conservation measures, we can ensure that the Chatham Petrel remains a thriving and integral part of the Chatham Islands’ natural heritage.

Jimmy Chen
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