Monday, 22 February 2010

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY column

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

by Sue Hensley

March 6 is the date set for opening the top tracks of the Ecosanctuary to
self-guided walkers. On that day there will be activities for children,
displays, talks and bird spotting tips. Initially the tracks open to the
public will be limited to the main top track and two short side ones. The
opening of the valley track will not happen until the upgrade by the Dunedin
Rotary is complete – possibly mid-year.

It has been a busy month with some big groups involved including both the
Warrington Playcentre and School. Our wild kākā obviously recognised them as
fellow locals and came to visit to underline the conservation message being
put across.

The captive tuatara have had a check up and are all healthy and have put on
weight. Tuatara survived in this region in early times but Orokonui is the
coldest site where tuatara are currently held. This is of great interest to
researchers and Otago University is looking at growth rates, emergence
behaviour and how body and environmental temperatures relate.

Two cases of gecko poaching have been highlighted in the news recently. This
is something the Trust and experts have been very mindful of since last
year's jewelled gecko translocation. Although gecko are extremely difficult
to spot for most people the Trust has a policy of keeping the jewelled gecko
away from public view to minimise the risk from poaching.

Pest eradication is continuing to head in the right direction with one
hedgehog (rather fat) and one hare being trapped. The best news of all
though is that no rat footprints have been recorded from the target areas.
This of course does not mean they have been eradicated and many more nil
results will be needed before any conclusions can be reached.

The Cafe and Visitor Centre are open 7 days, 9.30-4.30. The Centre is free to
explore as is the Pa Harakeke walk (Flax Plantation), and the 9km perimeter
track. We also have a facebook page as well as a website
www.orokonui.org.nz to keep you up to date.

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