Constant control for rare robins in Fiordland, New Zealand

The Hollyford Valley, in New Zealand's South Island, is a tranquil paradise - flowing rivers, bird song and clear blue skies nestled deep in the heart of Fiordland. A few of our team were lucky enough to head down recently on a mission to protect toutouwai, otherwise known as the South Island robin, with the Hollyford Conservation Trust.

The land protected by the Hollyford Conservation Trust includes an important dune system home to thousands of nesting seabirds including the rare Fiordland crested penguin, a lagoon, wetlands as well as mixed beech and podocarp forests home to rimu, rata, kowhai and native orchids.

It’s an extremely important and ecologically diverse part of New Zealand.

In the fortnight before our team was sent down to help with the traps, the Trust had released 150 robins into the area – small, conservation-dependent forest birds that are prone to predation by rats and stoats. Both rats and stoats, as well as possums, are considered invasive pests in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, Trust Chairman Ron Anderson says that the pests in the valley were running rampant. In a bid to protect the native wildlife in the area, he rallied together local landowners, members of the community and the Department of Conservation to form a group dedicated to eradicating rats, stoats and possums across the 2600ha.

“We held community meeting after community meeting and the one thing we could all agree on was that the pests had to go,” says Ron. “After much debate on how we could achieve this, we agreed to install 500 Goodnature A24 rat traps.”

500 traps is a lot of traps, and 2600ha is a lot of land to cover - so we sent down two of our technical experts - Sam Gibson and Nick Graham - to help the Trust get the traps out and installed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“A network of single use traps over the same area would require hundreds of hours of maintenance over a year,” says Sam. “Our automatic traps require checking only twice a year – which massively reduces the amount of time needed to maintain A24 trap lines.”

“The release of the robin is one step in our plan to restore abundant wildlife in the Hollyford area,” says Ron. “One day we hope to bring back kiwi, mohua, and other threatened birds that once called the Hollyford Valley home. The A24 network will help make this a reality for us.”

Want to help the Hollyford Conservation Trust? Check out the link below:

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