Something is nibbling at the heart of our ecosystems. As possums, rats and stoats disappear thanks to Predator Free 2050 operations, mouse numbers are expected to climb. Are we prepared? And since mice eat our wētā, beetles, geckos and skinks—rather than our charismatic birds—do we care enough to do anything about it?
What would happen if city suburbs as well as offshore islands enjoyed freedom from introduced predators? Is it possible for New Zealand to eliminate them all—stoats, ferrets, weasels, possums, and three species of rat?
With imagination and dedication, as a Waiheke schoolteacher and his students showed 60 years ago.
One hundred and fifty years ago, acclimatisation societies forever changed the nature of our nature, introducing exotic creatures for commerce, sport and sentiment.
Many bird species have abandoned flight for pedestrian life. What is it that sets the kiwi, and dozens of other birds, to striding rather than soaring?
The Possum – a small leaf eating marsupial from Australia – is devastating the New Zealand environment.
A single aerial drop of 1080 can kill around 98 per cent of possums and will have a similar success rate on rats. But for all the official assurances of strict controls, things have gone seriously wrong at times.
A red-letter year for conservation continues to send ripples around the world.
Central Otago’s rabbits have long been known simply as ‘the evil’. Every Good Friday, hundreds of hunters assemble from around the country—and the world—in an attempt to kill as many of them as possible.
The kakapo is an anachronism in a modern world, and it's exploits hidden under the cover of darkness. Using night vision equipment a team reveals it's hidden life.
Ten years ago, even the most visionary conservationists thought ridding New Zealand of predators was a pipe dream. Now the PM says, “Let’s do it.”
Kim Hill and a panel of experts consider predator-free New Zealand. How realistic is this vision? And what will it cost?
In 2012, 19 conservationists from DOC embarked on a two-day thought experiment behind closed doors to consider an idea so original that all were asked at the outset of the meeting to “suspend their disbelief”.
In the largest pest-eradication operation undertaken in New Zealand, 11,300-hectare Campbell Island was blitzed with rat poison in the winter of 2001.
Kiore were hunted with either pit traps or spring snares. The portable tawhiti makamaka spring snare was constructed using a stick of supplejack.
Kiwi, the unofficial emblem of the nation, are losing in a tussle for survival within the very forests that were once their stronghold. But a concerted programme by biologists, wildlife centres and public-spirited citizens seeks to turn the tide for these secretive and peculiar birds.
Meet the amazing New Zealanders who are dedicating their lives to protecting the future of the country’s unique, but critically endangered, wildlife.
In a land renowned for its unusual birds, the kakapō—a giant flightless nocturnal parrot with a bizarre breeding system—has to be one of the strangest.
Variable oystercatchers, New Zealand dotterels, fairy terns and shore plovers: with the arrival of humans to areas used as breeding sites by shorebirds, the threat profile to these species has been drastically altered and increased.
John Innes is a scientist at Landcare Research and an expert on rats among other things. He was the man who helped bring tui back to Hamilton.
Rats have a soft spot for the taste of pīwakawaka. In some fantail hot spots, more than 60 per cent of nests are predated even before a full clutch of eggs has been laid.
In 2012 the Department of Conservation embarked on a brave new model for managing takahē, one of New Zealand’s most endangered birds. After more than six decades of intensive intervention, rangers set out to do the impossible: nothing.
Lizards, although as characteristic of New Zealand as birds— and, like them, unique—receive far less attention, despite the fact that there are more than twice as many endemic reptile species as endemic bird species in the country.
Rowi are the rarest of the rare—a species of kiwi so critically restricted in distribution and breeding success that they were almost done for. But a last-ditch effort—codenamed Operation Nest Egg—has dramatically changed the fortunes of the most imperilled kiwi in the world.
In the early 1960’s rats got ashore on Big South Cape, an island off Steward Island. They ate everything. A rescue attempt mounted at the time saved one very special bird–the South Island Saddleback.
Great Mercury was one of the first sites of human habitation in New Zealand. In 2015, a radical new public-private partnership sought to rid the island of pests. It was a unique operation, and the results have been astonishing.
For millions of years New Zealand was a paradise, but a thousand years ago the first invaders arrived, and the face of the country was changed forever.
There are signs an endangered native forest bird is gaining a foothold on an island in the Marlborough Sounds, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says. Ranger Dan Palmer said the sparrow-sized mohua were now breeding on Blumine Island in Queen Charlotte Sound. He said 31 of them were moved to the predator-free island from Otago's Blue Mountains in 2013 to help ensure the survival of the species, which DOC has classified as nationally vulnerable. Today, mohua were only found on the mainland in beech forest south of Canterbury, Mr Palmer said. They have been moved to two Marlborough Sounds island sanctuaries and there was also a breeding mohua population on Nukuwaiata - one of the Chetwode Islands in the outer Pelorus Sound - but the population on Blumine was the first to show signs it was growing. Mr Palmer said DOC rangers recently found five pairs of mohua, three of which were raising young. "One pair had two fledglings, a second pair had three fledglings and a third pair was incubating eggs. "It was especially pleasing to find the nests, as the year before only nine adult mohua could be found and no chicks were seen, so we couldn't be sure if they were breeding." Mohua numbers on the island were still "uncomfortably low" and the small population remained at risk from threats such as a stoat getting onto the island or storms in the area, he said. Blumine Island was publicly accessible and included a campsite. Mr Palmer said visitors needed to be mindful of the island's fragile nature. "There's a small campsite there and it's a lovely place to stay, and we want to keep it pest free. "That's really important to boaties and people in kayaks who visit the island, that they do a bit of a check on their gear and make sure they're not carrying any mice or rats, such as what might be living in boats that can jump out and start populating the island again," Mr Palmer said.
The island’s magic starts before anyone steps off the ferry: loud, ringing bird calls come from the wooded hillsides ahead. As visitors walk down the wharf, their eyes widen in delight at the unfamiliar sounds—this is what Joseph Banks must have meant when he wrote of the “melodious wild musick” of early New Zealand.
How 150 kaka provided evidence that large-scale pest control operations could reverse the decline of kaka on mainland New Zealand.
Stoats were introduced from Britain in the 1880s to control rabbits, and until 1936 they even enjoyed legal protection as a “natural enemy of rabbits”. Yet they were soon implicated in the decline of native species.