Saturday, 23 May 2009

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

by Sue Hensley

Winter has arrived and with it the first snowfall - a new experience
for the tuatara. However they are somewhat protected from the weather
as they remain in holding pens until their future placement is
decided. They were given a health check and weighed prior to winter
and were found to be in good nick although 3 were a bit overweight – a
reflection on the enthusiastic invertebrate hunting by their human
carers. Now they have burrowed down and out of sight to find some
warmth surfacing only on the odd sunny day.

The saddlebacks are settling in to their new home and are enjoying the
orange berries of the stinkwood tree. They are being monitored by
Zoology masters student Bryce Masuda. This requires a huge amount of
walking and sometimes a lot of luck to track them down and then get
close enough to be able to see and record the leg bands. This is not
an easy task especially now they are calling less often. Twenty-two of
the thirty eight birds have been sighted so far which is a pretty good
result.

The mouse population has decreased dramatically after a round of
intensive trapping, poisoning and monitoring. Unfortunately rat
footprints have been detected and this has now become the number one
priority for eradication.

Construction of the Visitor Centre is back on track (although a few
weeks behind) following April's crane crash. One container, some roof
struts and a portion of the decking had to be replaced but the
foundations were not affected.

The Ecosanctuary is open exclusively for guided tours at present.
Bookings are essential. Tours cost $20 adult or $10 child with half
price for members. Tours are for 1½ - 2 hours for a maximum of 8
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.


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