Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Orokonui Ecosanctuary (column)

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

There has been a fantastic start to the Ecosanctuary's new year with
the translocation of 18 jewelled gecko. The 18 include six pregnant
females and were sourced from an area of land where their habitat will
soon be lost. It was a community effort with representatives from STOP
(Save the Otago Peninsula), Dept of Conservation, University of Otago
and Ecosanctuary personnel involved in the spotting and capture of
these beautifully pattered green geckos that once lived in our area.

This is the very first time that a translocation of jewelled gecko has
ever been undertaken. Ongoing monitoring of these notoriously
difficult to see animals is essential (it took some spotters 5 hours
to find one!) and to enable this to happen they have been released
into purpose-built pens. Herpetologist Dr Mandy Tocher is the lead
scientist for this project.

The six juvenile kaka have been at large for two and a half months now
and although some leave the Ecosanctuary at times, they appear happy
to return for company and supplementary food. One kaka was caught by a
falcon and lived to tell the tale – pretty impressive for a
captive-bred bird!

Thank you to those who have rung about sightings of the kaka. These
have included Waitati (Ree St), Orokonui Estuary, Careys Bay, Mihiwaka
and Purakaunui. The kaka are monitored closely within the
Ecosanctuary, but outside sightings add important information to the
whole picture. If you see one please ring the office and leave your
phone number so that we can get back to you for further information.
Please abstain from the temptation of feeding them if they come to
your property as some foods can be harmful to them. Keep cats and dogs
away and don't handle them – they have strong beaks!

The rain and warmth over the Christmas break has encouraged great
plant growth but also weed growth. There are regular weeding days,
often on Mondays and Saturdays. If you would like to help please ring
our planting coordinator Valerie Fay on 482 2806.

The Ecosanctuary is now open for guided tours. Bookings are essential.
Tours cost $20 adult, $10 child with half prices for members. Tours
are for 1½ hours for a maximum of 10 people per guide. Come and see
this fantastic forest restoration project in progress, learn about the
changes that have already been made and support the development of the
Ecosanctuary.

For enquiries the office number is 482 1755. For further information
on the Ecosanctuary, visit www.orokonui.org.nz or see our box at the
Blueskin Bay Library.

by Sue Hensley

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