Paparoa Wildlife Trust Raises Awareness of Threatened Kiwi

Trapping stoats, rats and weasels in the Paparoa Ranges is a top priority as The Paparoa Wildlife Trust works hard to ensure the survival of the great spotted kiwi (roroa) and blue duck (whio).

Atarau dairy farmer and Trust chairman Paul Berry is an advocate for this work. Paul, who is also a Westland Shareholder, has been involved with the Trust for five years. He said the work of the Trust has always been important to him as he is one of many living with the Paparoa Ranges at his back door.

“It’s a big part of where we live, so we’re pretty keen to get kiwi numbers to a sustainable level. Our work which includes trapping is a major part of doing that. Us five Trustees are fully focused on killing predators” Paul said.

Stoats are the number one enemy of the kiwi, as the pest will wait around kiwi nests until eggs have hatched to snatch them, Paul said. It’s the summer months, from November to March, that are particularly tough on the kiwi as stoats and other pests are on the move. Last year the Trust caught 103 stoats, 628 rats and 10 weasels.

“Our team is busy setting trap lines to catch stoats, weasels and rats, checking them every three to four weeks. We couldn’t do this without our awesome group of part time contractors and volunteers. They have a big job, with the ranges covering 8000 - 9500 hectares. We are very appreciative of the funding support we receive from Roa Mine, DOC community Fund and Kiwis for Kiwi” Paul said.

The Trust is also trying to increase numbers by hatching chicks at Willowbank Wildlife Park in Christchurch, then raising them in the Trust’s 12 hectare kiwi crèche at Moonlight (built  by a very generous private benefactor) until they are big enough to be released into the wild and fend for themselves. Our ‘Operation Nest Egg’ saw the chicks raised, rear at least three chicks in the last four years that have survived in the wild, due to the decrease in predators.

The Trust shared its work with the public at an open day in early February, emphasising the importance of getting the local kiwi population to a sustainable level. Trust kiwi ranger Jo Halley runs the open day where she had two juvenile kiwi on display that were raised in the crèche and due to be released back into the wild.

“It’s a great chance for the public to see our conservation work and we can teach them about how crucial it is to help the kiwi population survive” Jo said.

“If you stretched out all of our traps - which are GPS’d at 100 metres apart, they would cover a distance halfway from Greymouth to Christchurch. I’d say we have around 1300 traps currently, but that increases as we continually install new lines.”

The remailing population of great spotted kiwi in the wild across New Zealand is only 14,000 and they are declining at a rate of nearly two per cent annually. We are trying to halt the decline, but it’s hard to see just yet if the population is increasing in this area due to our work.

“Kiwi take around four - five years to start breeding so it may be around 20 years until we see a noticeable increase,” Jo said.

 

FACTS ABOUT GREAT SPOTTED KIWI

·        Classified as vulnerable

·        May be decreasing by as much as 43 per cent in three generations (45 years)

·        Are fiercely territorial and will aggressively defend their territory

·        Mark their territory with strong smelling droppings

·        Call frequently during the night to each other and neighbouring kiwi pairs

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