Cape Sanctuary manager Tamsin Ward-Smith is buoyed by the introduction of little spotted kiwi to the sanctuary's stable. She tells Mark Story she hopes kiwi numbers rise to the point where they won't need to see humans again.
1 The pending arrival of 20 spotted kiwi is exciting - how do you expect they'll take to their new home?
I am very optimistic the little spotted kiwi will settle in well here at the sanctuary. The habitat is quite different to Kapiti Island and Red Mercury Island where the kiwi came from. However, little spotted kiwi were once widespread throughout the North and South Islands and so quite capable at living in many different environments. We have also learnt from other species translocations to the sanctuary that when you remove the predators the natives do very well in habitat very different from from what we would think would be suitable for them.
2 What's the current pest capture rate like?
Predator capture rates at Cape Sanctuary are very low. The predator proof fence across the neck of the peninsula protects from re-invasion but occasionally pests can enter around the fence ends. An intensive trapping programme is in place to mop up any invaders. Wild cats still remain a big problem.
3 Tell us what you do on a daily basis at the sanctuary.
People tell me I have the best job in the world and I have to agree (most of the time). I am fortunate to have a mix of management and hands-on species work. I spend most of my time preparing species translocation applications and carrying out the transfers, co-ordinating staff and volunteer work programmes, health and safety, budgeting and reporting.
4 What's your favourite resident species?
Every time we re-introduce a species back to the sanctuary they become my new 'favourite'. Every species has their own special character that draws you to them from our tiny rifleman to the boisterous takahe. Kiwi though, hold a very special place in my heart. They are so stroppy and resilient yet endearing and vulnerable. They so need our help to survive. Management has needed to be fairly invasive and hands-on. For me the magic day will be when kiwi numbers have recovered to the point where they never have to see a human again.
5 For you, what's the sanctuary's biggest success story to date?
Where to start? I think the sanctuary can be very proud of what it has achieved in fewer than 10 years. I feel some of the biggest success stories have been with the returning seabirds. The seabird translocation programmes have been a huge investment in staff and volunteer time and money. Some seabird species like grey-faced petrel can take five or more years maturing at sea before they return to the site they fledged from to breed. We have waited and waited with anticipation since 2008 when the first chicks of the translocation programme fledged and finally after five years noticed young birds had begun prospecting. Last year a returning grey-faced petrel pair fledged their own chick. Success!