New Zealand plans to vaccinate its two most treasured bird species against bird flu if the deadly virus comes near the country.
The federal Conservation Department has announced plans to protect the kiwi, a national symbol, and the kakapo, a near-extinct parrot, because it believes the flightless birds are particularly susceptible to the H5NI strain of the virus.
A government conservationist told the Associated Press that New Zealand has no cases of bird flu but the birds could be vulnerable and the move is a precautionary measure. They are to be vaccinated if the strain is discovered in or anywhere near the country.
The kiwi is a New Zealand icon, while the kakapo is the world's largest flightless parrot. The kiwi is considered to be the country's "most ancient" bird, according to a website dedicated to its recovery.
New Zealand has fitted its surviving kakapo, all 86 of them, and scores of captive and wild kiwi with transmitters to locate them quickly, AP said.