Fiordland Conservation Trust's first project
- thanks to the vision of its trustees
Fittingly in 2008 just months after being set up as a conservation trust, the Fiordland Conservation Trust's first one-off project in partnership with the Department of Conservation, was a translocation of 30 of the kakaruai/South Island robin onto Secretary Island.
The 30 kakaruai became the first of the native bird species to be reintroduced to the island since the announcement in 2004 that the government of the day was funding an intensive stoat and deer control programme - $7million over a 10 year period - an exciting new focus of the Department of Conservation on Secretary and Resolution (20,800ha) Islands, two of New Zealand's largest islands ever to be considered for such a blitz.
At 8,140ha and positioned at the entrance to Doubtful Sound, Secretary Island had never had established rodent or possum populations making it ideal to target for conservation restoration. In 2004 a network of over 120km of tracks was cut on the island. Next 940 wooden and wire mesh trapping tunnels were established across the whole island and stoat trapping began in 2005. Intensive deer control also got underway and 496 deer have been removed from Secretary Island since October 2006.
Stoats have been caught on Secretary since the initial knockdown but the Department is confident that the level poses no threat to the native species that have been reintroduced and that stoats can be prevented from reestablishing on the island.
Within the big picture context of the conservation jigsaw that focusses on Fiordland, the work done on Breaksea Island in the 1980s was the forerunner of the many island pest eradication programmes that have followed.
From the news archives
Exciting Step forward for Wildlife Sanctuary
A short helicopter flight for thirty Kakaruai/South Island robin marks the beginning of an exciting new phase in the restoration of New Zealand’s largest inshore islands. It is also the first conservation project funded by the newly formed Fiordland Conservation Trust.
Department of Conservation Area Manager, Reg Kemper of Te Anau said up until now restoration work has focused on removing stoats and deer from Secretary Island in order to provide a safe haven for bird species that are no longer present or are seriously threatened on the mainland.
“It’s a significant milestone in the restoration programme to be able to begin reintroducing species to the island,” said Mr Kemper. “It’s extremely satisfying to see the project reach this stage so quickly and to have the community support represented by the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the number of volunteers who have worked on this project.”
Fiordland Conservation Trust trustee Dr Vivienne Shaw said the Trust was delighted to be involved with the project. “It’s exciting that our first project involves the first transfer of birds to an island that will become an important sanctuary for endangered wildlife.”
In 2004, the government announced $7 million funding over a 10 year period for the removal of stoats and deer from Secretary and Resolution Islands in Fiordland National Park. The eradication of stoats and deer began on Secretary Island as it is the smaller of the two islands and lessons learned are now being used on Resolution Island.
“Robins have proven very vulnerable to rat plague events and have already disappeared from many areas on the mainland” said Mr Kemper. “It is important that we establish populations of these vulnerable species in predator free areas. We are confident that they will do well on Secretary Island.”
John Davies of the Fiordland Conservation Trust holding a robin ready for release
The introduction of the robins to Secretary Island is the first in a number of planned transfers of species that are most vulnerable to predators on the mainland.