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Culling invasive species on islands worldwide

could save nearly 10% of the world’s bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile species currently on the brink of extinction.

So the Guardian reported on research published in the journal Plos One.

Recently I saw this for myself on Kapiti Island, which – thanks to volunteers who criss-crossed the island with traps, and to the ongoing surveillance of DOC – has been predator-free since 1998. Only one pregnant ferret has disturbed the peace since then!

Kākā watched us from trees above, kōkako sang, weka dug in the undergrowth, the lone takahē hid from sight, hihi flitted by, and we found empty kiwi holes…

“This is about as cost-effective, high-impact species extinction prevention spending as one can find – as close as we can get to a silver bullet. . .People are often surprised at just how successful and doable these projects are . ..” said Jonathan Hall, the RSPB’s head of UK overseas territories.

With the predators in Cloak of Protection removed, wildlife is flourishing. To celebrate this, dolphins frolicked in the marine reserve, and beside our boat, both ways.

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Rivers as barriers

RATS in Cloak of Protection
even quite small rivers are an effective barrier to possum migration. So found ZIP (Zero Invasive Predators), in 2017, when they ran a trial in Remutaka Forest Park.

Last year, a similar trial began in the Perth River valley, to measure whether or not larger rivers are also an effective barrier to the migration of rats.

By 19 February 2019, after more than seven months of continuous bio-marking and trapping, confidence has grown. Trials were run across winter (where the river levels are lowest; the water is at its coldest; and rat breeding and dispersal activity is low), and across spring/summer (when the river levels rise as snow and ice melts; and rat breeding and movement increases).

“We are very encouraged by this promising result!” say the team.

Maybe, just maybe, some rats don’t like getting their feet wet!?

More information at Zero Invasive Predators Assessing the Perth River (and Scone Creek) as a barrier to rats

In Cloak of Protection, there are three rats: kiore; Norway; and Ship (shown).

Making Flight of Pollen we learnt that the endangered sort-tailed bat / pekapeka (which is a phenomenal pollinator), has had much of its role in our Native bush, taken over by the Ship rat – when the rat doesn’t eat everything in sight ie the whole flower (of course)!

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a stoat hunt is underway

as Auckland Council and DOC rally their teams on Great Barrier Island/Aotea. A potential sighting has set off alarm bells and sparked an immediate incursion response.

DOC Operations Manager George Taylor said, “with the speed stoats can cover the ground, it is vital to get on their trail as early as possible.

“Getting a positive indication of stoat presence from the dog is the fastest way for us to know if we have a problem and to start planning how to deal with it.”

Great Barrier Island, which was considered free of stoats, has significant populations of endangered birds that would be easy prey.

Stoats travel far and fast. One young female tagged in the Egglington Valley on 20 December 1990 was killtrapped at Burwood Bush, 65 km away, on January 1991.

In Cloak of Protection, the stoat is a devastating predator – making giant holes in the strongest of Cloaks!

Date: 10 January 2019
Source: Auckland City Council

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World-leading eradication on Antipodes Island

Image: WWF-New Zealand and Island Conservation

Million Dollar Mouse was one of the most complex island eradication projects ever undertaken, and now we know it was successful.

Recent monitoring on Antipodes Island has confirmed that native birds and insects can thrive, free from predation and competition from mice and other mammals.

A successful Cloak of Protection is now made – by a team that included DOC, the Morgan Foundation, WWF-New Zealand, Island Conservation and us, the New Zealand public.

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kahu harrier

kahu/harrierWalking toward Te Horo beach yesterday I saw kahu, the harrier, coming in from the sea. It kept trying to find some lift in the air, but instead kept sinking down out of sight, plummeting toward the dunes, only to appear again, flapping its way upward.

Kahu was the one reason we could not call the settlement realm, introduced. Because they introduced themselves!

I wanted the big birds – the giant hunters – to be numero uno in each realm. Karearea (the NZ falcon) for forest; toroa (the royal albatross) for sea; hokioi (the giant eagle) for extinct: and kahu (the harrier) for settlement.

Of course 3 of these birds turn up in the predator realm as well. The fourth – toroa – hunts too, but far away from land.

Once, they ruled. Maintaining the balance in their realm. As only good hunters can do.

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at the Invercargill Museum (& Art Gallery)

aptornisQuite often I get asked about the adzebill. Did this bird really REALLY exist?

Oh yes – I say – I’ve seen the bones of one in the Invercargill Museum.

So, this January I went for a hunt in their Natural History section. As you can see in the photo, it isn’t all the bones, but enough to put together a model.

The label Aptornis, refers to its Latin name. I’ve added Morgan’s illustration below for a fleshed-out comparison.
adzebill

Adzebill were as large as a small moa, flightless, with a massive down-curved bill.

In Cloak of Protection they are both extinct and predator. They were hunted by: kiore; dog; & the human hunter.

In turn they hunted: tara-iti (fairy tern); tara (white-fronted tern); hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin); tutikiwi (snipe); kiwi; & whio (blue duck).

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ship rat

All around the world went the ship rat. From India to Britain around the third century. From Britain to us, arriving on the sailing ships, about 1830.

Swiftly they ran. Into our towns, across our farms, into our forests. Spreading in the North Island after 1860, the South Island after 1890.

They’re superb climbers. Going up the tree-trunks, running right to the tree-tops.

Hunting mostly at night, using smell, touch, hearing & taste, they take eggs, chicks & sitting adults.

Small nesting birds like miromiro (the tomtit), who wouldn’t leave their young, are often killed.

Way down south, in the 1960s, they landed on two off-shore islands. There they wiped out birds. The last great short-tailed bat was gone forever. And gone too, from there, were tieke (the saddleback), Stead’s bush wren, Stewart Island snipe, and matata (the fernbird).

In non-beech forest, they are our greatest bird killer. They prey on more forest birds than any other pest mammal.

But we are working hard to get rid of them. We get better & better. They are now gone from 18 off-shore islands (as at 2007).

It’s all very weird though. Here the ship rat is everywhere (except in alpine places). But back in Britain, they’re now rare & hard to find!!!