A plan to completely rid New Zealand of rats and other pests has been announced by the country’s government. It’s being described as the world’s most ambitious conservation effort and aims to protect endangered native birds and wildlife.
To reach the goal the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, is investing NZD$28 million into a new company called Predator Free New Zealand Ltd. It will oversee large control projects, develop new technologies to target pests and find private investment.
New Zealand has no native mammals, apart from two species of bat, and when Captain Cook landed in the 1770s he noted that the bird song was deafening. Since then introduced animals like stoats have caused havoc. Many of New Zealand’s unique birds, which had evolved over the years in a predator free environment, were wiped out and many more like the kakapo and kiwi are now critically endangered. It’s estimated introduced pests kill 25 million native birds a year and John Key has suggested they cost the economy and primary sector about NZ$3.3 billion a year.
New Zealand already has a number of “predator-free” islands like Tiritiri Matanga off Auckland and Motuara in the Marlborough Sounds. Here threatened birds like the takahe have been re-introduced and work is being done to rejuvenate the endemic flora and fauna. It will however be an enormous challenge to spread this success out across the rest of the country.
Whilst the target is hugely ambitious, work has already been done to explore the possibility of removing predators from larger islands such as Great Barrier Island, Stewart Island and the Secretary and Resolution Islands in Fiordland. The announcement is certainly a massive boost to the conservation efforts already in place across the country
We are very proud of the close ties we’ve established with a number of conservation projects in New Zealand, including the nursery in Okarito and pest control efforts on Farewell Spit and along the Wairaurahiri River. Click here to find out more.
If you’re interested in taking a wildlife and conservation-friendly safari in New Zealand call us for a chat on +44 (0)1298 74040 or get in touch using our short & simple contact form.