New Zealand

New Zealand to embark on world’s largest eradication of wild predators | New Zealand

New Zealand conservationists are embarking on the biggest attempt ever to eradicate introduced predators from an inhabited island.

Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, a Crown research institute, has signed a $2.8 million partnership with Rakiura/Stewart Island conservation group, Predator Free Rakiura, to eradicate predators including opossums, rats, feral cats and hedgehogs over the next four years.

The project will also include research programs to better understand how pests proliferate and how best to manage them.

Rakiura lies off the South Island and covers around 180,000 hectares, with a permanent population of 400 people and around 45,000 visitors per year.

The island has national parks, distinctive ecosystems, significant dunes and pristine freshwater systems, and is home to many vulnerable native species including native birds, geckos and bats.

But the introduction of pests has affected its delicate flora and fauna – including the flightless national icon, the kiwi and the adorable nocturnal kākāpō – the heaviest and only flightless parrot in the world.

“Rakiura is currently in a state of pōuri or sadness,” said Dean Whaanga, Co-Chair of Predator Free’s Te Puka Rakiura Trust.

“On the surface, a visitor can see the magnificent treasure that he is, but his true mana [power] and Mauri [essence] will be recognized when native species return in numbers as our ancestors saw them,” he said.

In Maori legend, Rakiura is also known as Te Punga o Te Waka a Māui – the anchor stone of the canoe of Māui (the South Island) from which he raised the great fish (the North Island). From now on, it will serve as a motive to anchor the country in a national goal without predators.

“What we learn here will help pave the way for predator elimination nationwide,” Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research said in a statement.

Its acting chief executive, Dr Fiona Carswell, said working alongside trust and community was what would bring the institute’s “research” to life.

“We value working with local knowledge and approaches to realize biodiversity aspirations for Rakiura. »

Similar predator-free projects have taken place around the world, including on South Georgia Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean. His eradication of rats covered about 350,000 hectares, but the population of the island is only 20 to 30 people.

Although smaller, Rakiura has a much higher population and “unless someone else gets there first, Predator Free Rakiura will be the largest predator eradication yet in the world with a community of this size”, Chris Jones of Manaaki Whenua say stuff.

New Zealand’s leading independent conservation group, Forest and Bird, has praised the project, calling it a “massively ambitious and important vision” that will pave the way for environmental protection in New Zealand and around the world. the world.

“Sixty years ago, members of Forest and Bird carried out the humble first-ever rat eradication on Maria Island in the Hauraki Gulf, which covers just one hectare,” its spokesperson said, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

“It is incredible that today New Zealand is studying the elimination of all introduced predators off an island 180,000 times larger.”

New Zealand to embark on world’s largest eradication of wild predators | New Zealand

Source link New Zealand to embark on world’s largest eradication of wild predators | New Zealand

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