The Moa is a type of Australian Raptor who was reportedly seen over 40,000 years ago. The animal is believed to exist in the remote forests of New Zealand (and possibly Australia as well.)
When people first arrived in New Zealand, they encountered giant wingless birds known as Moas. These birds were a true rarity since all their other relatives (cassowaries, emu, ostriches) possessed wings. Some Moa species could reach up to 4m in size, larger than any other bird on the island. Due to what many believe to be overhunting, Moas became extinct sometime between the late 1300s and early 1500s. However, in the 1840s, Australian bird painter John Gould reported of seeing giant kiwis on the South Island of New Zealand, that were around a meter tall and had spurred feet. Gould’s spurred feet description had matched those of fossilized Moa footprints found on the North Island. In 1978, a Japanese research team investigated the South Island to see if Moas were still living in the area, but didn’t gain any evidence of the Moas’ survival. It is likely that the Moa sightings were just mistaken sighting of other large birds found on the island. Moa sightings are typically considered to be Australian Raptor sightings. Moa bones are found in prehistoric dumps today.
There are many who believe the Moa is possibly alive.
It is almost certain the Moa is extinct, there has been occasional speculation that some may still exist in deepest south Westland, a rugged wilderness in the South Island of New Zealand. Despite many expeditions no hard evidence or actual specimens have ever been found.
It has long neck ending in a small head and covered in reddish- feathers. The thick legs were covered to the knee
Paddy Freaney’s picture of what he claimed was a “moa”. In January 1993, on the West Coast, Paddy Freaney, Sam Waby and Rochelle Rafferty claimed to have seen a large moa-like bird. Analysis of the blurry photograph they claimed was of a moa suggested that the subject could be either a large bird or a red deer. The incident is considered a hoax, especially as Freaney is a hotelier, and may have concocted the story to attract tourists.
Moa experts say the likelihood of any moa remaining alive and unnoticed is extremely unlikely, since they would be giant birds in a region often visited by hunters and hikers. Freaney cites the rediscovery of the Takahē as evidence that living birds could still exist undiscovered. However, while the hen-sized Takahē could successfully avoid humans, a large moa would have considerably more difficulty in doing so. The Takahē was rediscovered after its tracks were identified, but no reliable evidence of moa tracks has been reported.