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Archive for the ‘cat’ Category

Scoop: Native birds feel no fear when facing foes

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Sarah Whitwell with the stuffed stoat and morepork she has been using to test fear responses of the North Island robin.


Endangered native birds are at risk of losing their instinct to recognise and flee mammalian enemies when moved between predator-free and predator-filled sites, says a Massey researcher.

Sarah Whitwell, a biology Masters student at Massey’s Institute of Natural Resources in Albany, designed an experiment using a pulley system to dangle a stuffed stoat and morepork at nesting North Island robins to test their fear responses. She says most robins in areas free of introduced predators such as stoats failed to get into a flap at the sight of an enemy, albeit a fake version.

Her research adds to growing evidence that native birds’ responses to mammalian predators are not genetically hard-wired.

“That’s because introduced mammal predators have been here a relatively short time, whereas native birds have been here for millions of years.”

She says already endangered native bird species would be at increased risk if moved back to wilderness sites with mammalian predators after inhabiting mammal-free conservation areas without some form of predator-recognition training.

The responses of robins in predator-controlled Wenderholm Reserve and Tiritiri Matangi Island near Auckland were compared with those in the central North Island, where the birds have long co-existed with native and introduced predators.

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Scoop: On the lookout for lizards
Wellington green gecko, DOC
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Conservation staff on the DOC Poneke area-managed Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour are preparing for an exciting arrival on Friday’s 10 am ferry sailing.

15 rare Wellington green geckos, seven of which have spent the last twelve months on ‘sabbatical’ at the city’s Karori Sanctuary, are being released on the island on Friday 15 November as part of an annual translocation programme – the largest to date.

DOC first began translocating green geckos to the island sanctuary in 2006 to create a self-sustaining population on this predator-free island. They have been working with local lizard breeders to ensure a genetically diverse supply of geckos for release on a yearly basis. This year, 16 lucky local school children with a special interest in conservation have been chosen to take part in the release.

‘Establishing a safe population on Matiu/Somes will help ensure survival’, said DOC biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy.

Local lizard enthusiasts and conservation projects like Karori Sanctuary play a critical support role for DOC’s gecko recovery programme in terms of both advocacy and breeding. One year old animals are taken to the Sanctuary for display in a special gecko enclosure before being released on the island at two years old.

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$35m plan to rid island of rats and feral cats – 11 Mar 2008 – NZ Herald: New Zealand and International environment and global warming news
Peter Jean Caley

oil painting of South island Tomtit by Peter Jean Caley

Stewart Island interests are considering an ambitious $35 million proposal to eradicate rats, wild cats and possums from the island.

The proposal has initial support from parts of the community but is likely to be vehemently opposed by deer hunters. It includes a predator fence around the settlement of Oban and plans for widespread aerial poison drops.

Described as New Zealand’s biggest conservation project, it aims to “make Stewart Island the Galapagos of the South”.

Copies of the proposal have been given to community groups and key “stakeholders” before a public meeting on April 3.

The “draft feasibility study” has been prepared by the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust, with support from the Department of Conservation and the Tindall Foundation.

Proposed “border control” measures could include teams of rodent-checking dogs monitoring departures from Bluff and Invercargill and arrivals on the island.

It is hoped bird species such as kakapo, saddleback, mohua, kokako and teal may eventually be reintroduced to Stewart Island.

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update: tv3 video of the same story

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TV3 > Video – Browse All > Weather/Environment Video

The country’s newest public reserve has opened on the Catlins coast, to provide a safe haven for the endangered Yellow-eyed penguin.

The Department of Conservation has teamed up with a community trust to create a long strip of protected coastline, about two hours south of Dunedin.
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This remote area on the Catlins coast is one of the main habitats of the Yellow-eyed penguin.

And now DOC – together with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust – have bought 50 hectares of coastal farmland, effectively creating a 12 kilometre reserve along the Southern Ocean.

New Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick planted a Rata tree to celebrate the occasion.

It is expected to be the first of many planted here as part of a reforestation project, to help the penguins feel more at home.

“Until we put vegetation around these sorts of coastal margins that encourages them to come in and breed, we’re at peril of losing more and more of them,” Chadwick says.

This 12 kilometre stretch of coastline is home to around 50 breeding pairs, that’s 10percent of the Yellow-eyed penguin population in the South Island.

The penguins have coped relatively well in the isolated area, but plans to add fences and undertake predator control work will help improve their chances or survival.

Sea birds could also be reintroduced into the country’s newest public reserve, which DOC describes as a good investment for generations of New Zealanders.

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Scoop: Matiu/Somes Island a resort for ‘lounge lizards’

Reptiles being rescued from the perils of city life to enjoy the tranquillity of Matiu/Somes Island are to be outfitted in the style of lounge lizards sporting “ipods”.

Green geckos rescued from the clutches of urban cats or raised in captivity, will be fitted out with tiny green “lounging” jackets before starting a new life on the Department of Conservation-managed sanctuary in Wellington Harbour later this year. It’s not about protecting them from Wellington’s notorious winds, or creating a reptilian fashion statement.

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