Major Boost for Pateke

Submitted by editor on

March 2010

Major Boost for Fiordland’s Endangered Pateke Population

39 pateke/Brown Teal, New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl were released into their new surroundings in the Arthur Valley, Fiordland last week.

The captive reared pateke were flown into the Arthur Valley area near Milford and released by the Department of Conservation in a project partnered by the Fiordland Conservation Trust and Ultimate Hikes.

The latest transfer follows the successful release of 20 birds in the area last year which saw 14 birds survive – one of the highest survival rates ever for first time captive releases.

DOC Te Anau Biodiversity Ranger Andrew Smart said yesterday’s release of 40 birds was made possible by the nationwide effort of private breeders, conservation trusts, Ngati Wai, Ngai Tahu and local businesses supporting the project.

The pateke were prepared for release into the wild at Peacock Springs Wildlife Park in Christchurch where they were taught to use supplementary feeders, banded and fitted with transmitters. They were then flown to Queenstown.

They were then transferred free of charge by a Real Journeys plane into Milford Sound and helicoptered into the Arthur Valley close to the Milford Track before being finally released.

Ultimate Hikes employee Jemma Knowles, who participated in the release, said the Teal looked very happy in their new home. “This is such a neat project to be involved with. It would be a great achievement if people walking on the tracks in this area could one day get a glimpse of the pateke once the population increases in numbers”.

FCT Manager Rachel Cockburn said that having Ultimate Hikes partnering this project is crucial to the success of it, but also testament to the foresight of John Davies, chairman of Ultimate Hikes, and a founding trustee of the Fiordland Conservation Trust. “John is now the patron of the Conservation Trust due to his passion for conservation in this area.”

Mr Smart will be staying in the area for the next few days to provide supplementary food for the birds as they learn to forage and feed themselves in the wild.

“If survival rates are good more than 200 pateke could be released into Fiordland over the next five years. With only 2000 purebred pateke living in a wild state in New Zealand, this second release of pateke into the South Island is going to make a real difference,” Mr Smart said. “It is great to have DOC and these local businesses working closely together.”

brown teal
Pateke or brown teal