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Work still to be done to protect native wildlife

KIWI, long-tailed and short-tailed bats have been discovered within the Eastern Whio Link (EWL) project.

Sam Gibson, NZ Landcare Trust's East Coast catchments co-ordinator and founder of EWL, said the discovery means work needs to done to support kiwi breeding so the bird is not lost from the koranga, kahunui and upper Waioeka catchments.

“I was out in the hut cooking food and one evening we heard a kiwi chirp . . . we looked at each other and thought, ‘no, there's no way'. Then we heard a female kiwi reply. It was so cool to hear them in there. We know of old reports of kiwi in the EWL project area but we had never heard anything before.”

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology students went to the project area and established acoustic recorders to listen out for kiwi and bat across 3000ha of farmland and forestry.

NZ Landcare trust, River of Man Adventures, EWL and Paddy Stewart from Red Admiral Ecology are working together to achieve the largest community-led monitoring operation on the East Coast.

The results show that kiwi are holding on in low numbers across the catchment. There are more males heard than females and it would be fair to say it is a remnant, fragmented population, Mr Gibson said.

They found both long-tailed and short-tailed bats. Short-tailed bats were found roosting on one of the landowners' farms, which is super exciting, he said.

Bats are targeted by cats, rats and sometimes possums.

They can change roost trees every one to two nights to avoid natural predators such as ruru (morepork) that figure out where they are living.

“This behaviour means that to support bats we need to implement large landscape rat, possum and wild cat control,” Mr Gibson said.

Other birds found were whitehead, kaka and karearea (falcon) as well as a selection of other forest birds.

The groups will be having a catchment hui on June 18 to unpack the data and figure out their next steps.

MONITORING KIWI: Toiohomai Institute of Technology student Tui Toka-Riki setting up an acoustic monitoring device to see if there are any kiwi in the area. Picture by Eastern Whio Link
TEAMWORK: Paddy Stewart from Red Admiral Ecology and Peter Swann, the conservation project manager for Mangaotane Trust, setting up an acoustic monitoring device in a tree. Picture by Eastern Whio Link
LISTENING: An acoustic monitoring device that picks up the sounds of wildlife. Picture by Eastern Whio Link