May 2018

Great Spotted Kiwi Project 

Volunteers have been busy analysing data from the acoustic recorders that were spaced throughout the RNRP area in March. The protocol is detailed on the Great Spotted Kiwi page.   

As well as identifying bird calls - Great Spotted Kiwi, morepork, kaka and weka - we have heard roaring stags, the Travers River and trucks along Highway 63.      

Trapping Statistics for April

As expected figures for April are lower than previous months

April 1.JPG
April 3.JPG


Update supplied by Peter Hale


Winter is upon us with the first snow falling on our deck as I write this. As our stoat lines are now on monthly checks our catch statistics for the month will be reported the following month.


The Predator Free NZ Trust has recently released their report, Transforming community conservation funding in New Zealand. This report was written by Dr Marie Brown and most community groups will have participated in the research. The report initially intended to focus primarily on funding but the scope was expanded by necessity. I feel the full report is essential reading for all involved in conservation and can be read here .


It was announced this month that South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean has been declared rat- free. The programme started in 2010 and a survey conducted in 2017-2018 detected no rats. This survey involved two New Zealand dog handlers and their three dogs, with the handlers walking 1600 km and the dogs 2420 km. This makes the island of 800 sq km the largest to be cleared of rats, Macquarie is second at 128 sq km and NZ’s Campbell Island third at 113 sq km. All three islands are uninhabited except for research staff. For further reading see the Trust’s report here .


Some background information on the target species: Ship rats are notoriously difficult to control let alone eliminate in areas of continuous habitat. In NZ few survive more than one year. In forest they have a home range of about 50 m but this can be up to 140 m in coastal environments. They patrol their home range each night and empty range is taken over within days. The litter size is usually 3 – 10 with about 32 days between litters. They are sexually mature in 3 – 4 months and breed from September to mid-April but this is extended in mast years due to increased food availability.


Landcare Research has completed a meta-analysis of conservation data to determine the effects of predator control on endemic/native bird populations. It confirms that while some benefit, others show little effect (tui and tomtit) or even a decline (grey warbler, silvereye and fantail) in response. Previous discussion on this incredibly complex topic has led to ridicule from some community sectors in the past however this analysis confirms the findings. Landcare Research will be publishing their findings which were referred to here.    


The world’s protected areas are rapidly being destroyed by humanity and this includes NZ where conservation land is under continual threat from such industries as agriculture, mining and power generation as well as tourism, read here .




Julie Robilliard