Thursday, 21 February 2013

OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

by Sue Hensley

The loud hum of bees visiting the white flowering rata vines on sunny days has intrigued visitors. It sounds like the engine of the forest, which in a way it is and a valuable reminder that it is those inconspicuous and less thought of creatures – the invertebrates -- that are key to a healthy and functioning ecosystem. We ignore them at our peril.

Visitors have also been wowed by an eel that regularly comes to the surface of its pond to be fed.

Anyone driving along Blueskin Rd late at night may notice some highlighter-yellow-clad bods crouching by the side of the road. Don't be alarmed -- these people are part of a kiwi call monitoring programme. This involves volunteers sitting for two hours after dark at various high points around the sanctuary (both in and outside the fence) noting all calls, the direction and whether male or female. It is intended that this will provide a baseline for future information on numbers of kiwi in Orokonui. Once they begin breeding this will be the main tool we have of determining breeding success. After a training night 14 volunteers headed out to their count stations and on the second night two lucky counters had a close encounter with a kiwi that sniffed around them for almost twenty minutes!

It is ten years since the first public meeting was held to get the then proposed ecosanctuary at Orokonui underway. There will be events during 2013 to mark this anniversary. Information on this and other events can be found on www.orokonui.org.nz or on our facebook page. The Visitor Centre and cafĂ© are open daily 9.30 – 4.30pm.

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