Date: 30 January 2012
Ranger Flo Gaud and Nigel Babbage shake hands
The Department of Conservation’s (DOC's) efforts to save a rare native bird in the Mount Aspiring National Park’s Makarora Valley have received a boost from the Mohua Charitable Trust.
Dense beech forest in the Makarora Valley is home to a population of nationally endangered mohua (yellowhead) which are being protected by a predator control programme targeting stoats.
Flo Gaud, DOC’s Biodiversity ranger in Wanaka, said the Makarora Valley is now getting extra protection from predators thanks to the $11,000 donation from the Sumner based Mohua Charitable Trust. “This generous donation is a welcome addition to a very worthwhile project.”
“The Mohua Charitable Trust is delighted in being able to sponsor nearly 200 new predator traps to replace existing outdated ones”, said Nigel Babbage, founder and treasurer of the Trust. “A millennium ago when the South Island was largely one giant beech forest, the Mohua were the predominant insectivore in the forest.”
Mr Babbage hopes that the donation to the project is only the starting point in a an association between the Trust and DOC in the region, assisting not only the endangered, brightly coloured bird but all indigenous wildlife against unwanted predation.
The Mohua Protection Project is a joint effort between local DOC and the Central Otago-Lakes Forest and Bird Protection Society (F&B). Initiated by F&B in 1998 it involves intensive predator trapping, particularly for stoats, and mohua population monitoring.
Originally protecting six nests, the project now has 300 traps from the Makarora edge of Mount Aspiring National Park to Haast Pass/Tioripatea including the Young Valley.
Ms Gaud said a survey of the Makarora mohua population in November, to ensure the predator control is continuing to be effective, resulted in 34 sightings.
Recent declines of mohua at several key mainland sites have changed the focus of conservation management to include rat control. This is in response to rat plagues following two seasons of heavy beech seeding which toppled mohua populations.
While the Makarora was fortunate not to have suffered rat plagues this severe, Ms Gaud said a rat control programme is being developed for the area.
Annette Grieve +64 3 443 5701