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File:Buller Kakapo.jpg

DOC has managed to breed two kakapo using artificial insemination in what’s being hailed as a world first and a boost for critically-endangered birds everywhere.

Kakapo are notoriously slow to reproduce, and DOC hopes the breakthrough will now ensure the birds’ survival.

There are only 124 kakapo in existence, but with the help of artificial insemination, or AI, they may just be able to claw their way back from the brink of extinction.

“It’s just a fantastic tool for us to protect the future population of kakapo against further inbreeding, and also hopefully improve fertility rates,” says DOC’s Deirdre Vercoe.

“It’s a real breakthrough, a scientific breakthrough to achieve AI in a wild bird like this,” says Forest & Bird’s Chris Todd.

With more than 50 percent of kakapo eggs infertile, associate professor Ian Jameison says AI is a revolutionary tool in the fight for their survival.

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New hope for the kiwi

It might be down to global warming or just a couple of shorter winters on the trot, but whatever the reason, the kiwi breeding season is getting longer – the kiwi bird that is.

That is good news for those working to ensure the survival of the North Island brown kiwi as Ali Ikram found out.

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TV3 > News > Weather/Environment News > Story > Rat scare at island sanctuary averted by four-legged hero

An island sanctuary for rare birds has been at the centre of a pest scare today. Motuihe Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has been rat-free for 15 years, but yesterday paw prints were found at several spots on the island.

Jack the dog has been specially trained to smell a rat and today his senses were put to the test.

Jack and his owner, Fin Buchanan, have been training for seven years for a day like today.

But with a camera watching Jack’s every step, finding the Motuihe rat still looked like big weight to bear.

The rogue rat threatened the Department of Conservation’s million dollar plans to release kiwi and other rare birds on the island.

“This is the last thing we needed or expected,” DoC threats officer Ditch Keeling said. “We haven’t had a rat on here for 15 years. It’s really quite bizarre.”

The rat is thought to have come in off a boat and prints had been spotted in five of the island’s 45 tunnels, cunningly built to detect rat-steps.

DoC staff like Mr Keeling had been setting traps through the night.

“You live an adrenaline mode for the first ten days and then you start to get really tired,” Mr Keeling said.

But it was not long before Jack found the elusive rodent.

“Obviously we’re pretty elated,” Ditch Keeling said. “If this is the only rat on the island then we’ve just pulled off the fastest complete eradications ever taken place.”

Close inspection showed the rat was a female. The Department of Conservation will now need to check for signs whether she has ever had babies. And if that is the case, Jack could be making a return trip to the sanctuary.

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TV3 > News > Weather/Environment News > Story > Iconic weta being relocated into central Christchurch

They are not the prettiest in the insect kingdom but weta are an iconic New Zealand species – and they are going places.

Tree weta are being collected on Banks Pensinsula as part of a project to move them back into the city.

Eleven weta are city-bound – being relocated in portable wooden houses to Riccarton Bush, a six hectare block of kahikatea floodplain forest, surrounded by a predator-proof fence in the heart of Christchurch.

John Moore: ”This is the first translocation we’ve had into the bush, this is the first time we’ve reintroduced something back in here, and it is quite exciting for us.”

Researchers say the urban bush will form a natural laboratory and they have plans to add to the eco-system.

“We’re beginning with invertebrates, we’re going to monitor their welfare over the next few years and then move on to the next stage – which is probably to introduce lizards and eventually birds back into the forest.”

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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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TV3 > News > Weather/Environment News > Story > Kiwi sanctuary helping against extinction

They have been nothing more than a distant memory in the Auckland region for more than half a century, but now, kiwis are set to make a return.

Forty of the birds have been transported to the Tawharanui sanctuary from an outlying island.

When a kiwi is lifted from a box the sound is always the same.

Not from the bird, but from people seeing one close up for the first time – ‘Oooh’ and ‘ahhhhh!’

But our national bird is still in great danger of disappearing forever.

One of the biggest threats has always been dogs.

Back in the 1980s a single dog killed 400 kiwis in Northland.

‘Just one dog, so they can be enormously destructive and adult kiwi just don’t have any defence against dogs,’ says Tim Lovegrove, a National Heritage scientist

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In 1924 a north Canterbury farmer discovered a new species of fish – not an amazing feat in itself, except this fish doesn’t need water to survive

Today, the town of Oxford made the critically endangered fish a local hero in an effort to save it.
The endangered Canterbury mudfish are so hardy they can exist by burrowing into mud and breathing through their skin.
Although they have been in the area for thousands of years their future is under threat.
That is why the town of oxford is trying to raise the fish’s profile.

Maori have long known about the fish but it was local farmer Alfred Burrows who discovered their unique properties.
In 1924 he was digging a well when he noticed several small fish in the paddock around him.
Alfred Burrows knew you do not normally find fish living in paddocks so he sent a live specimen to the Dominion Museum where it was found to be an entirely new species.

Unfortunately by then the Canterbury plains had changed from lush wetland to productive farmland.
Because so much of their habitat is gone they’re classified as ‘nationally endangered’.
In fact, it is the country’s second most threatened fish.

So the area’s supporting the creature online – the fish has its own website – mudfish.org.nz.
And everyone here hopes the extra attention will help out these lesser known locals.

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