The South Island kokako – also known as the ‘grey ghost’ – is widely believed to be extinct, but one tramper believes they may have seen the elusive bird.
Hiking along the Heaphy Track in Golden Bay near the top of the South Island, the tramper apparently saw a large dark blue bird with orange under its beak, fitting the profile of the South Island kokako.
Ron Nilsson, a member of the South Island Kokako Charitable Trust, said the sighting would be taken seriously – just as the other half dozen annual reported sightings are, reports RNZ.
“There’s probably a few birds there, but not many. You know, how do you find them? It’s a lot more difficult than you might imagine,” he said.
There is also a $10,000 reward offered by the Trust for definitive photographic proof of the bird, which was classified as extinct by the Department of Conservation (DOC) in 2007.
DOC’s website, however, does state there is a remote possibility the bird survives in low numbers.