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Winery toasts success at the birthplace of New Zealand conservation

Peregrine Wines recently toasted the success of their fourth conservation initiative through the Fiordland Conservation Trust and DOC, with the transfer of 60 mohua/yellowhead to Resolution Island, the birthplace of New Zealand conservation. The October transfer marks a momentous step in conservation, being the first time that native wildlife has been returned to the island.

Resolution Island was declared New Zealand's first Nature Reserve in 1891, and in the years following caretaker Richard Henry moved hundreds of kiwi and kakapo to the safety of the island, away from the stoats and rats that were devastating the mainland's wildlife. But with the invasion of stoats to Resolution Island in the early 1900s, Richard Henry abandoned his conservation dreams.

An ambitious trapping project undertaken by DOC over the past three years is helping to restore Resolution Island (20,860 ha) to its former stoat-free status. With a breeding population of stoats no longer present, it is now safe to return endangered or threatened species, such as mohua, to Fiordland's largest island sanctuary. Due to the size of Resolution Island, it will be able to sustain a mohua population of thousands, making it the largest protected site for mohua in New Zealand.

The mohua were transferred from the Landsborough Valley, near Haast, where numbers have been recovering well since stoat, possum and rat control was established in the valley in 2000. Once an estimated population of just 14 birds, there are now estimated to be at least a thousand mohua in the valley, so transferring 60 to Resolution Island will not affect the Landsborough population.

Mohua are particularly vulnerable to rats and stoats, especially in years of heavy beech flowering, as the seeds provide an abundance of food for rats and stoats, causing them to reach plague proportions. Large flocks of mohua were once seen throughout the beech forests of the South Island but today only a few remain in small pockets on the mainland, or on predator-free islands. Transferring mohua back to Fiordland's largest island sanctuary will help to secure the future of the species.

The team from 'Close Up', who filmed on Resolution Island three years ago, were back to film this first transfer of birds. You can watch the full story at tvnz.co.nz/close-up/s2011-10-18- video-4470077

For more information on the Mohua transfer, please contact Lindsay Wilson at the Department of Conservation, ph (03) 249 0200 or email: lpwilson@doc.govt.nz

For more information on Peregrine Wines and the Fiordland Conservation Trust contact Laura Harry, Fiordland Conservation Trust Manager, email: manager@fiordlandconservationtrust.org.nz

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