The New Zealand pigeon was previously hunted for its meat and feathers by both Maoris and Europeans (2) (4). Along with forest clearing, this caused a substantial decline in their numbers following European settlement (2).
However, predators such as stoats (Mustela erminea), cats, possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and rats (Rattus rattus), which were introduced to New Zealand by the Europeans, are now the main cause for concern (4). Both eggs and young chicks are lost to these predators (3). Competition also occurs with possums and rats for food, which result in starvation of the adults and failed breeding attempts (4).
On the North Island, the kereru is in real danger of becoming regionally extinct (3). A study in 1993 showed that the species had declined by 50 percent in just 14 years (4). Although able to live up to 15 years on offshore islands, on the mainland, life expectancy is just five to six years due to predation (5). The New Zealand pigeon is still affected today by habitat loss, due to browsing by herbivores and land clearance for farming (4). With the New Zealand pigeon under threat, many native trees dependant on them for seed dispersal, and subsequently forest regeneration, are also at risk (3).