Tuesday 19 February 2013

Extinct species #3; South Island Snipe

South Island Snipe, Coenocorypha iredalei.

Formally considered a subspecies of Subantarctic Snipe C. aucklandica. This is still considered a subspecies by IUCN

History: This species once lived across South Island and Stewart Island and its surrounding islets. It became extinct on South Island after its occupation by humans coming from Polynesia. It survived on nine smaller islands until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1964 there was an attempt to relocate the remaining birds to rat free islands but they died in captivity and the species was considered extinct. There have been no acceptable records since.

Specimen number 1932.10.25.1: Ventral view.
This bird was collected on Big South Cape Island in December 1932.
Specimen number 1932.10.25.1: Dorsal view.

Extinction:  The population across South Island became extinct after the arrival of polyneisian settlers who inevitably brought rats with them. On the remaining pockets on small islands around Stewart Islands group the main cause of extinction is likely to have been the introduction of alien predators such as cats and rats, however in the case of this species on at least one island it is thought that introduced Wekas Gallirallus australis were also responsible. The species became extinct on South Cape Island in 1964 when the final two birds died in captivity on 1st September.

Specimen number 1932.10.25.1: 45° right ventral view.

Specimen number 1932.10.25.1: Head detail.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal. J. eds (1996) Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Birdlife International (2013) Species factsheet: Coenocorypha aucklanica. Downloaded from on 18/02/2013.

Wikipedia 14/02/2013:

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