3 March 2020
Despite the very dry weather, we have active and thriving species here at Maungatautari this summer.
Takahe – With the recent weather, the grass growth has slowed right down which impacts the feed quality for our two family of takahe. We have bumped up the supplementary feeding and pasture management in the meantime and are keeping a close eye on their wellbeing. Thankfully, we still have four healthy chicks and very soon it is time for their annual catch up for banding and vaccination. At this time feathers are taken and will be sent for DNA sexing and some blood and faeces is taken for a health exam. This is a stressful event for the takahe so we do not have many people participating, but we will update you with photos next month.
Kiwi – Kiwi releases are still occurring with the last eggs of the season soon to hatch and continued releases of the precious babies in locations right around the maunga. Craig our kiwi ranger has been taking care to choose nice sites with good water supply to ensure our babies get off to a good start. That has meant many opportunities for local landowners, community and volunteers to participate in these releases. Craig, Tali and Rickie-Lee have done a superb job this year with the new kiwi experience tour. It has been extremely well received and people have been delighted with the experience where they learn the entire story of these young kiwi right up to its release here on the maunga. Great job guys!
Lizards – We have been seeing more gecko activity on the maunga, with regular sightings of geckos on the fence by operations staff. Some lucky visitors even saw two male forest geckos having a territory dispute in the Southern Enclosure very recently! One gecko ran up a person’s back to escape the drama and was gently escorted back into the bush. Photos such as these of lizards encountered at Maungatautari are really valuable – if they are in focus and have enough light, then the patterns on the gecko can even be used to identify individuals over time, so please do send us any lizard photos including a location where it was taken! It is likely that the Southern Enclosure has a greater population density of geckos and skinks due to the mouse free status. This month I have been setting up a new volunteer lizard monitoring team and we will have our first training in March with Waikato Regional Council lizard expert Moniqua Nelson-Tunley. This is to start rolling out a new long-term monitoring grid in the Southern Enclosure. Exciting stuff!
Rifleman – Last but not least the other huge task is preparing for a rifleman translocation from Pirongia and Pureora in April and May this year. We are waiting on the final approval from DOC and then it is all systems go! If you are on the volunteer list with Ally, we will soon be making contact to our regular volunteers for helping out during the two weeks of the rifleman transfer – we will also need cooks, drivers and more. If you are not already on our volunteer list but are interested to help. I suggest you get in touch with Ally quickly at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Note there are only limited spaces for volunteers during the translocation, but we will also have a release event so will keep you all posted as this historic occasion draws closer.