In the mid 1970s the Chatham Island black robin was the world's rarest bird. With only two females left, the conservation ante was extreme. Enter saviour Don Merton and his Wildlife Service team. Their pioneering efforts ranged from abseiling the birds (including the talismanic Eve of her species, 'Old Blue') down cliff faces, to left-field libido spurs. This 1988 Listener Film & TV award-winner united two earlier Wild South docos and updated the robin’s rescue story to 1987. It originally screened on Christmas Day 1987; and was reversioned for this 1989 edition.
I remember the nerves that came over them once they realised that they had that real black robin in their hands. Those guys changed, knowing what they were entrusted with and what was ahead of them. I recall Dick Veitch. Once they had that box with the bird in it, and secured it on his pack, he was just a different person. It was the awesome responsibility of getting that precious bird down that cliff and across.– Cameraman Paul Donovan, in Wild South: Saving New Zealand’s Endangered Birds, by Rod Morris and Hal Smith, 1988
Available to purchase on DVD from Natural History New Zealand