First in Rakiura, then across the country

First in Rakiura, then across the country

New Zealand. Rakiura is a little paradise off the coast of New Zealand. Nearly 180,000 hectares divided into national parks, dune landscapes and pristine freshwater systems. Rakiura is home to many endangered native species, including many of the nearly 170 species of native birds, as well as geckos and bats.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

However, introduced animals such as wild cats, possums, rats or weasels greatly wipe out delicate local flora and fauna at times. Above all, rats, which reach the most remote corners of the world on ships and usually reproduce rapidly without predators, have killed countless endemic animal species, destroying habitats and food sources. New Zealand’s birdlife, such as the flightless kiwi or the heavy, flightless parakeet, has also suffered from predators.

Hunting, fences, traps and poisons

Therefore, the New Zealand research institute Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research has partnered with the conservation group from Rakiura / Stewart Island, Predator Free Rakiura. In a project worth NZ$2.8 million (about €1.7 million), predators such as opossums, rats, wild cats and weasels will be eradicated over the next four years.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

Various methods must be used: in addition to the classic hunt, fences, traps and poisons must be used. “The method we use will depend on various aspects, including which insects we target, how many animals we need to remove and what kind of landscape we need to remove animals from,” said Project Director Campbell Leakey. .

Radical wildlife conservation in New Zealand

At the same time, research programs will be used during the project to find out how pests reproduce and how best to control them. “What we learn here will help pave the way for ridding the entire country of predators,” the website said in a statement. Menakee researches when it’s a year to care for the land. New Zealand hopes to eliminate most of its introduced predators, particularly rats, by 2050.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

According to Leakey, the current project is the largest of its kind in the world. There have been similar projects on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, which at about 350,000 hectares is larger than the islands of New Zealand but has hardly any human residents, while on Rakiura after all 400 people live. In Australia, too, attempts have been made in recent years to “beat off” unwanted migratory animals: some 300,000 rats have been killed on Lord Howe Island. Previously, the lemmings had pushed the island’s flora and fauna to the brink of collapse. It is believed to have been responsible for the extinction of at least five wild birds, 13 invertebrates, and two plant species there.

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Do not underestimate the risk of “relapse”.

In the fight against rodents, the Australian Environmental Protection Agency has spent much more money than New Zealand: 15 million Australian dollars (10 million euros) have poured into the program. 22,000 lockable poison traps were eventually placed around the island, and poison baits were dropped from the helicopter in hard-to-reach areas of the island. To prevent an already threatened population of flightless Woodhens from eating the poison, the animals were temporarily moved to Sydney Zoo.

The campaign was initially successful: after the rats were exterminated, the local flora and fauna experienced an almost astonishing rebirth. But at the end of October, Australian media reported that about 100 rats were seen again on the island. It has not yet been possible to determine whether these survivors or were brought back by boat.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

However, New Zealanders do not want to be anxious about this bad news from the neighborhood. There is always a risk that imported animals will return, Leakey said. It is therefore important to manage the biosecurity issue well and continue to monitor the situation even after the program has ended.

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