The bird catchers: Native birds relocated for novel project

Twenty-five year project aims to help secure NZ's biodiversity by creating a novel ecosystem.

A New Zealand bellbird is caught as bycatch in a net during the conservation project on Little Barrier. Photo / Greg Bowker
A New Zealand bellbird is caught as bycatch in a net during the conservation project on Little Barrier. Photo / Greg Bowker

Eighty native birds have been caught on Little Barrier Island and delivered to a new wildlife reserve in the Hauraki Gulf.

Forty tieke (saddlebacks) and 40 popokotea (whiteheads) were relocated from Little Barrier at the weekend and placed on Rotoroa Island this week.

The relocation of the birds is part of a 25-year project planned by Auckland Zoo and the Rotoroa Island Trust.

A white head has a blood sample taken as part of its check before being tagged. Photo / Greg Bowker
A white head has a blood sample taken as part of its check before being tagged. Photo / Greg Bowker

The aim is to introduce up to 20 new animal species - including kiwi, Duvaucel's gecko and moko skink - to the area by 2018.

Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken said the project would hopefully raise awareness of conversation and the environment in the region.

"We're aiming to help secure New Zealand's unique biodiversity in a way that's a deliberate departure from what's been done before.

"We will be introducing species at a greatly accelerated rate and including wildlife that wouldn't necessarily have been found on Rotoroa Island before.

"In doing so, we aim to create a diverse and novel ecosystem, and one which will allow us to showcase the sort of interventionist approach to conserving wildlife that New Zealand is increasingly becoming known for around the world."

Students from Auckland's Long Bay College built roost boxes for the reserve.

Mr Wilcken said such community involvement, particularly with schools, was another big aim in that the spotlight on the new reserve would spark interest among the public to become involved.

DoC ranger Richard Walle helps erect a net for whiteheads and saddlebacks. Photo / Greg Bowker
DoC ranger Richard Walle helps erect a net for whiteheads and saddlebacks. Photo / Greg Bowker

"It's an inclusive vision of conservation success that focuses on how people and wildlife can benefit each other. We hope to help foster a whole new generation of conservationists."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 19 Dec 2014 09:30:19 Processing Time: 278ms