Glenfern Sanctuary Update by Tony Bouzaid

One year on, almost back to square one.


Our first monitoring after the second aerial bait drop took place in September 2009 with only one rat print found under a house in Arthurís Bay. After a year of major rat incursions, aggressive perseverance with trapping and baiting, adapting our techniques and timing to the invaders we are not too far from where we started.

While we have still caught some rats between the last two monitoring rounds none have been caught since and very few fresh prints to which we are responding.

We are finding very few rats in the buffer zones outside the fence which would indicate that we are not currently being reinvaded. Some of these dead rats have been removed by cats and we have discovered one cat print inside the fence.

August 24th to the 26th was the occasion of the Sanctuaries of New Zealand Conference at Orama and enabled us to meet other dedicated operators and to catch up with how other Sanctuaries are dealing with pest incursions. About 60 delegates visited Glenfern and were guided in five teams through the Sanctuary to the kauri tree and back.

The Conference also enabled our contractors and volunteers to have a detailed discussion with John Innes of Landcare Research about our particular problems. From this we learned that the rats we were catching over the last two months and assumed to be juvenile ship rats were in fact adult kiore! You might think a rat is a rat but in fact the kiore are not as destructive as ship rats. Now we know how to tell the difference.

Interpretive Display Centre

Over the last year we have been building a new office and education centre for visitors to the Sanctuary. A large monitor enables us to give a PowerPoint presentation of the history and operation of the Sanctuary, what we have achieved to date and where we are headed in the future for the whole of the Kotuku Peninsula. We can seat up to 20 people in the display room and look forward to showing visitors what can be done.

Rodent Fence

We are fundraising to build a rodent proof fence along the drive just behind the shoreline to capture the rats that have been coming across the mud flats and along the intertidal zone around the end of the fence in Port FitzRoy. Despite two rows of bait stations and traps at 10-20m intervals on the shoreline and behind, the rats were still crossing into the Sanctuary. The rodent fence is only 1300mm high and extends 500m from the end of the existing fence to just before the FitzRoy House wharf. The total required is just over $100,000 but we have already raised 25% of the cost. We are very grateful for the help provided by our volunteers and the assistance we have received from Lotteries, the Biodiversity Funds, World Wildlife Fund, ARC and the Auckland City Heritage Fund. We are always on the lookout for more volunteers as so much is being asked of so few.