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Published on August 31, 2023
If you’re a regular visitor to Rotokawau Virginia Lake, you may notice the absence of the previously resident white swans.
The last white swan remaining at the lake – a female – was removed on Wednesday, 30 August 2023 and will be rehomed at Mangahuia Wetlands in Rangiwahia, northern Manawatū.
Whanganui District Council’s general manager - community property and places, Sarah O’Hagan, says, “With white swan numbers at the lake declining over time due to natural attrition, and because these birds also pair for life, we’ve chosen to rehome the last swan for its own welfare and wellbeing.”
Michael Bourke, a Queen's Service Medal recipient in 2021 for services to wildlife conservation, has unpaired male swans at the wetlands reserve on his family’s farm at Rangiwahia, and will introduce the female swan into this habitat with the hope that it pairs up and can mate.
In time, Michael Bourke intends to gift a new pair of white swans back to Rotokawau Virginia Lake with the hope they will remain and establish a new population for the Whanganui community to admire and enjoy.
The white swans – the species is also referred to as a mute swan (Cygnus olor) and in te reo, wāna – that used to live at Rotokawau Virginia Lake were semi-feral and originated from captive birds gifted by the Virginia Lake Trust in the late 1990s.