NEWS


 

Tuna/eel release to keep population thriving

Article by Elizabeth Hibbs

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Last week the tuna/eels living in the wetlands and streams at ZEALANDIA – Te Māra a Tāne were captured and released downstream beyond the sanctuary. As part of the Roto Kawau/lower reservoir restoration project, rangers worked alongside mana whenua, Taranaki Whānui, to carry out the translocation. Read on to find out what’s the issue with eels and why we need to do this. 

Encouraging dragonflies with freshwater ponds

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Dragonflies are beautiful and live amazing lives but they are in trouble worldwide. 

ZEALANDIA has several species of dragonflies and damselflies and we are playing our part to encourage them. We are currently hosting Ruary MacKenzie-Dodds and Kari de Koenigswarter, UK dragonfly ambassadors, to survey the dragonfly populations found in the sanctuary, and educate those at ZEALANDIA about dragonflies and their freshwater habitat. Ruary and Kari will also be giving a public talk on Tuesday, 18 February.

 

Hidden Depths of ZEALANDIA’s Lakes

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Every summer, some rivers and lakes around New Zealand turn soupy green, as algae (cyanobacteria) increases in abundance, blooming in the sun-warmed water. In normal numbers, the algae is an essential part of our freshwater ecosystems. When overabundant, some species that bloom also produce toxins which pose a health risk to humans and animals that come into contact with the water.  

Tītipounamu thriving in the sanctuary

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I hear the calls, a high-pitched buzzing ‘zipt, zipt, zipt’. Scanning high in the canopy, I spot a couple darting to and fro with their quick movements. These are the elusive tītipounamu/ rifleman, which I’m excited to spot at last since their introduction in March this year, with the help of ranger Kari Beaven. 

We head up a steep slope on the western scarp of the lower lake, and crouch low to observe a nest. Kari says this is the pair’s second nest for the season – and sure enough, I spot the female coming to feed her chicks several times. A quick food drop, then she’s away out again. 

Spring in the Air

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Spring is truly underway, and many of the birds in ZEALANDIA are exhibiting courtship, breeding and nesting behaviour. Here are some things to look out for if you are visiting the valley. 

The takahē are nesting again this year! In the last week of October rangers found Nio on a nest in the wetland and have set out a camera to keep an eye on whether any pīpī / chicks hatch. With an incubation period of 30 days, and a further nestling period of two weeks, it may be some time before we see any evidence of this, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed! 

Takahē make nests among vegetation, with overhead cover to hide it from avian predators. Males and females take turns incubating eggs, with the female typically taking the day shift and swapping with the male around dusk. 

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