Protecting wildlife at Te Waihora

Spotted skink. Photograph courtesy of DOC

Spotted skink. Photograph courtesy of DOC

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is populated by a wonderful variety of birds, reptiles and insects whose survival is often at threat from predators.

Protecting the local wildlife from predators is part of the kaupapa for Whakaora Te Waihora and some great work is being led by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to help ensure its survival. Predators local to the lake include stoats, rats, hedgehogs and wild cats.

This work is critical to the success of Whakaora Te Waihora due to the crucial role migratory and indigenous wildlife plays on the ecosystem surrounding the lake.

 

Harts Creek trapping site. Image courtesy of DOC.

Harts Creek trapping site. Image courtesy of DOC.

Trapping sites have been set up around the lake, including at Harts Creek and Kaitorete Spit. The site at Harts Creek has a variety of possum traps (indicated in red on the following map), and predator traps (indicated in purple) designed to protect native birds in the reserve.

 

This project is particularly focused on protecting Australasian Bitterns, an endangered species in New Zealand.

 

At the Kaitorete Spit site, a predator trap line has been set upĀ  to protect the four species of lizard found at Kaitorete Spit as well as birds and endemic moths.

 

Graph of monitored spotted skins courtesy of DOC

Graph of monitored spotted skins courtesy of DOC

 

While it is too early to give detailed results from the predator control programme, we have seen some positive preliminary results. The following graph shows a considerable increase in the number of spotted skinks – considered Nationally Vulnerable by DOC – around the Kaitorete Spit since the predator control was set up in 2012.

 

This great work will continue into the future and it is hoped that this predator prevention programme will allow species such as the spotted skink to continue to flourish on the Kaitorete Spit.