WILDLIFE RESTORATION ON CAPE KIDNAPPERS PENINSULA, HAWKE'S BAY.
Cape Sanctuary is a relatively new, and so far unique, approach to a huge conservation challenge in New Zealand. At 2500 hectares, the Sanctuary is the largest privately owned and funded wildlife restoration project of its kind in New Zealand. This is a project I am very proud to be a part of, not only with the hands-on voluntary work, but with this ongoing photographic record of the animals that now inhabit this very special place.
The Sanctuary is situated on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula and includes native forest, coastal dunes and cliffs, grazed gullies, farmland and even an international golf course.
KAKARIKI: In 2012 a captive breeding programme of red-crowned kakariki chicks sourced from Matiu - Somes Island, in Wellington Harbour - was established in order to populate the sanctuary. In the same year a further 44 kakariki were transferred from Kapiti Island. The young produced from the captive pairs, once fledged, are transferred to aviaries within the sanctuary and held for several weeks before their release into the wider surroundings. Kakariki are now seen and heard throughout the sanctuary, and even as far afield as gardens in Te Awanga and Te Mata Peak in Havelock North.
SILVEREYE: Of course the wax-eye, or silvereye, is a common visitor to many New Zealand gardens, and these wonderful little animals frequent Cape Sanctuary sharing the food left out for kakariki. They are a 'self introduced' bird, first recorded in New Zealand in 1832. Its Maori name, tauhou, means 'stranger' or more literally 'new arrival'.
KAKA are large forrest dwelling parrots. They are intelligent, curious and social, are skilful fliers capable of weaving through trunks and tree branches, and are known to cover long distances when flying. The Department of Conservation estimates a number between 1,000 - 5,000 kaka left in the wild. Cape Sanctuary is part of the national kaka breeding programme, with the first birds brought to the Sanctuary from Wellington Zoo in 2012. Often nesting in holes in trees, the kaka chicks stand very little chance of survival when attacked by introduced predators. Within the Sanctuary, young have been bred, raised and for the first time in June 2014 released to live freely within the sanctuary and wider surrounding areas.
SWALLOW: The welcome swallow. These small graceful birds are self-introduced from Australia in the 1950s so are, like the wax-eye, considered a native of New Zealand. They are open country birds and graceful, rapid fliers, catching insects on the wing over grassland, rivers and lakes.
TUI: Living close to the Sanctuary, in Te Awanga, we see an abundance of birdlife, including many boisterous, noisy tui. NZ Birds Online suggest the noises these birds make are: "tuneful notes interspersed with coughs, grunts and wheezes." !! Though only a short flowering season on this blossom, these tui jealously guarded it's nectar from bell-birds and wax-eyes.
TAKAHÉ: The DOC website refers to it as a 'conservation icon and survivor,' for despite hunting, habitat loss and introduced predators, this large flightless bird clings on to existence.
First introduced to the Sanctuary in 2012, within a few months the first chick was hatched and reared by its parents, to the delight of all concerned. Since then a further three pairs were translocated in 2014 and now play a pivotal role in the wider meta-population of Takahē throughout New Zealand.
NORTH ISLAND ROBIN: Lost from the Cape peninsula for over 50 years, the north island robin is recognised by its erect stance and long legs; it spends much of its time foraging on the forest floor. The robin, along with the tomtit, whitehead and rifleman were reintroduced to the area in 2007. These wonderful little birds have bred successfully within the safety of the Sanctuary, and much to the surprise of many, they have preferred to establish in the pine forested area rather than the regenerating native areas where they were first released.
PATEKE: Numbering just over 2000 living in a wild state, the pateke, or brown teal, is the rarest waterfowl species on the mainland of New Zealand. Since 2008 some 250 captive bred pateke have been released at the Sanctuary and in the 2010 and 2011 breeding season over 80 chicks survived to adult size. Pateke are now frequently sighted outside of the Sanctuary.
The COOK STRAIGHT GIANT WETA is one of the largest insects in the world and has been living and breeding at the seabird site, to the south of Cape Kidnappers, since 2014 having been transferred there from both Somes and Mana Islands. Sadly, like all these precious animals, some do not survive. These photos are illustrations of the outer skeletons of these large prehistoric invertabrates.