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Dunedin accelerates its commitment to Predator Free 2050

Predator Free Dunedin aims to establish the city as a ‘living restoration laboratory’, linking research and education with action, and connecting and supporting communities to restore the health of the natural environment.

The initiative links up projects around Dunedin where volunteers are actively involved in predator management. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  between 19 organisations was signed on 16 March.

Dunedin city - aiming to be Predator-Free.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says Predator Free Dunedin ‘is exactly the sort of collaboration that is essential for New Zealand to be Predator Free by 2050. It will create a haven for wildlife in the wider Dunedin area and brings predator control into the city centre.’

She further added that ‘Momentum is growing for the Government’s Predator Free 2050 goal to rid New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums and I have no doubt Predator-Free Dunedin will provide a strong model for other projects still to come.’1

Seven year search rewarded

Conservationists are excited after a confirmed siting of Australia’s endangered night parrot in Western Australia. Night parrots were presumed extinct for over a century until 2013 when a small population was rediscovered in Queensland, Australia. Since then, conservationists have been working to protect the elusive birds. The discovery was made by a group of four friends who had been searching for seven years to find a population in Western Australia. Photographs verified the first sighting of the species in the region in over 100 years.

For fear of poachers, the team will not disclose where they found the birds but researchers say it is clear evidence that the species can and does live in Western Australia
2.

Photo: Bruce Greatwich

More translocations planned for Bream Head in Northland

This April will see the relocation of whiteheads to Bream Head Scenic Reserve, an intensively trapped area 45 km from Whangarei. The Bream Head Conservation Trust manages the reserve and will build on the success of North Island robin translocated in 2016.

The Trust has had to meet stringent criteria from the Department of Conservation before the translocation could go ahead.

A decade of pest eradication is also allowing some species to return naturally—occasional visitors, including bellbird and kaka from the Hen and Chicken Islands, have now re-established. Grey-faced petrels have attempted to breed, likely thwarted by stoat predation. The reserve is also turning out to be a stronghold for lizard species (nine in total). In 2013, a totally new species was discovered by rangers in the reserve. 

Much of the work is by volunteers, including seed collection from the reserve, which after a couple of years in the nursery, returns as trees.

 

Bream Head, about 70 km north north-west of Aotea/Great Barrier, is managed by the Bream Head Conservation Trust. After the successful introduction of North Island Robins in 2016, the Trust is planning to introduce whiteheads to the Scenic Reserve in April.

 

Climate change, not predators, drives albatross relocations

In Hawai’i, 15 black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) chicks have been relocated  from Midway Atoll to O’ahu to protect the species from sea level rise.

Approximately 90% of the population breed on the atoll and have faced decline due to feather and egg collection, predation by invasive rodents, and fishing bycatch.

The species is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ by IUCN, with introduced predators thought to be a factor inhibiting re-colonisation at some islands, known historically to have supported breeding populations.

The three-week-old chicks were relocated to help safeguard the species, which faces a threat of flooding caused by sea level rise that is forecast to destroy nesting habitat.

Moving chicks to O’ahu aims to establish a stable population in a region that experiences less impact from sea level rise. Climate change has already impacted the species by washing away thousands of nests on low atolls in the north western Hawaiian Islands.

The chicks were hand-fed for four to five months before becoming independent. Researchers hope that the chicks will come back to O’ahu to breed on higher ground and help establish a thriving population.

Partners on the project include Pacific Rim Conservation, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation3.  


Black-footed albatross chick on Midway Atoll. The species is at serious risk from sea level rise threatening nest sites.
Photo: Eric VanderWrt/Pacific Rim Conservation

 

Notes:

1 Department of Conservation. 2017. Media Release. Ihttp://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2017/predator-free-dunedin-mou-signed/

2Island Conservation. 2017. Team of Friends Finds Night Parrot after 7-year Search. https://www.islandconservation.org/new-night-parrot-population-discovered/

3Island Conservation. 2017. Black-footed Albatross Move to O’ahu. https://www.islandconservation.org/black-footed-albatross-move-oahu/