Pāteke to be released on Rotoroa Island

Published: Thu 24 Sep 2015 10:43 AM
Pāteke to be released on Rotoroa Island
Pāteke (brown teal) are being released onto Rotoroa Island today – a move that will boost advocacy and educational opportunities for this endangered endemic waterfowl, as well as contribute to growing its wild population.
Three pāteke breeding pairs, translocated from Christchurch’s Peacock Springs will be settled in to wetlands on the Hauraki Gulf island where Auckland Zoo and the Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT) are creating a unique wildlife reserve.
The new arrivals, approved for transfer by the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) pāteke recovery group, are all fitted with transmitters to enable regular monitoring. The birds will also be supplementary fed via feeding hoppers at the three respective wetland areas as part of the birds’ intensive conservation management.
“With our RIT colleagues, we’re delighted that we can increase advocacy for and assist in the recovery of this endangered wetlands bird,” says Auckland Zoo director, Jonathan Wilcken.
“Through the education programmes we offer on the island, visiting school groups will be able to see and learn about these birds and also participate in hands-on conservation training as part of this project’s goal of fostering future conservationists.”
The new resident pāteke will hopefully go on to breed and their offspring will either be moved to new sites or allowed to disperse naturally as there are wild pāteke on the Coromandel and Great Barrier Island, both a relatively short flight away. The pāteke is the seventh New Zealand native species to be introduced to Rotoroa under the Auckland Zoo-RIT partnership.
Rotoroa Island Trust chair Barrie Brown says he and his fellow trustees are thrilled to be welcoming pāteke.
“Pāteke were once widespread throughout New Zealand’s lowland freshwater wetlands and on many offshore islands, so it’s very special to for us to have them here”.
With Rotoroa now open to the public, it also means that many more New Zealanders can get to see and learn about these pāteke and have the opportunity to be part of helping ensure their future,” says Mr Brown.
Pāteke Fast Facts
• The pāteke (brown teal), a small endemic duck, was once distributed throughout New Zealand’s lowland freshwater wetlands and many offshore islands. Today it is largely restricted to two existing wild populations on Great Barrier Island and the east coast of Northland - where numbers are steadily increasing thanks to intensive predator control operations.
• Classified as ‘Endangered (IUCN Red List) and ‘Nationally Endangered (DOC), there are currently estimated to be between 2000 - 2500 pāteke living in a wild state, making it New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species on the mainland.
Rotoroa Island Wildlife Reserve
• The Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT) and Auckland Zoo formed a partnership in2012 to create a wildlife reserve on Rotoroa, funded by the Hutton Wilson Charitable Trust ($4m over five years)
• For 100 years, Rotoroa was run by the Salvation Army as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, and was closed to the public, a role that ceased in 2005.
• Following extensive planting, monitoring and pest eradication, seven wildlife species have now been introduced to the island – saddleback, whitehead, kiwi, moko and shore skinks,takahē, and now pateke. The RIT-Auckland Zoo partnership plans to introduce up to 20 species to Rotoroa Island by 2018

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