Kids Restore the Kepler
Imagine a 3000 hectare prime piece of habitat made safe for NZ birds, insects, lizards and bats. Imagine a brilliant reserve that happens to also be one of Aotearoa's Great Walks. And now imagine that the driving force behind this remarkable restoration project is the next generation of New Zealanders!
Kids Restore the Kepler is a major conservation project with a difference. As well as having conservation goals seeking to restore birdsong in the area, the project also has a strong education focus. The project aims to help Fiordland's young people, from pre-school through to college, develop knowledge, values and skills so they can be confident, connected and actively involved in caring for their environment.
Working in conjunction with partners, sponsors, businesses and the community, Fiordland's young people intend to be the kids who restore the Kepler!
Photo: Venture Scouts accompanied by Pete Barrow and Pete McMurtrie (DOC) having a well earned rest from placing 472 trap boxes across a 3000ha area. Before the traps were set, they were 'pre baited' to draw in resident stoats to using the tunnels as a food source. Some were caught on hidden cameras:
Watch footage of the Kepler's unwanted residents
Bird Monitoring Reports:
1. 2012/2013 - Click here to read the baseline bird monitoring report (PDF, 6.02MB)
2. 2013/2014 - Click here to read the second baseline bird monitoring report (PDF, 2.05MB)
Hannah Edmonds, Kiwi Ranger - DOC Te Anau
Photos by Kimberley Collins - http://www.visitzealandia.com/
This may well surprise you, but it’s undeniably true; you can gaze at a great ape in the bush at night, running after the oddest of birds with all her might...
Kiwi rangers are:
Fit – Rangers looking for kiwi may have to walk long distances through the forest at night. Kiwi are fast runners so rangers have to be too!
Patient – Birds are called towards the ranger with a recording of a kiwi’s cry. The ranger waits patiently until the kiwi gets curious about the bird it can hear and comes to investigate.
Skilled – Kiwi, especial tokoeka, are very strong but can be hurt if they are not handled correctly. All people who work with kiwi (zoo staff, volunteers, researchers and rangers) learn how to hold birds with care so that they stay calm and are not hurt.
Catching kiwi for the first time has to be done at night. Once the kiwi is caught, it has a radio transmitter attached to its leg so that in future it can be found during the daytime when it is sleeping in its burrow (or day nest).
Field trip – Before you go for a night time walk on the Kepler Track, imagine leaving the track and plunging into the bush in search of kiwi. What skills and equipment would you need to do this safely? Getting lost in the bush is a very real danger. If you want to experience being off-track at night, choose the area around Super Site marker number one on the walk to Dock Bay (there’s no bush lawyer there!).
Watch these videos (quite a selection!):
Though the small (7mm) Celaenia olivacea is a native orb spider it is unusual because it builds no orb web. Their common name is the ‘Bird-dropping spider’ because of its strange shape and strange colouring which makes it look like a bird’s dropping (see photo). This is a specialised camouflage against predators.
I jump, I spin and I hunt at night. I crawl upside down and give you a fright… Need more? My friend Charlotte stood quietly over the fly. Wilbur lay down and closed his eyes… (By Lathee Verrall)
Key features / useful adaptations
Spiders have two spinnerets that make silk. All spiders make silk, but not all make webs.
All spiders have eight legs and most spiders have eight eyes.
Spiders have two parts to their body. The head and chest make up one part of the body (hard front part, this is the bit with legs) and the abdomen or soft hind part.
Spiders will catch prey during the day and night, but only carry out web repairs after dark.
There are over 1000 named species of spider in New Zealand. Most of them are endemic (found only in New Zealand, just like the kiwi).
Around half of spiders build webs. The other half are hunting spiders. They use silk to spin nest sacks for their eggs, but don’t make webs.
Field trip – Look on trees and shrubs for different types of webs. Orb webs are round, sheet webs look a little like trampolines, line webs are like tiny tight-ropes that stretch from one point to another and funnel webs line holes and are shaped like (you guessed it!) funnels.
Watch this video:
Native harvestman can be found at Dock Bay, they are related to spiders, but their body is segmented. They are active at night (nocturnal).
Common gecko - http://www.ngamanuimages.org.nz
I have four legs but don’t have fur; I sometimes bark but never purr. My feet help me stick as I climb a tree, if you grab my tail you won’t catch me! (By Catherine Brimecombe)
Key features / useful adaptations
Hobbit feet - Geckos have hairy toes, but the hairs are microscopic. They help the gecko stick to things as it climbs.
Throw away tail - A gecko can drop its tail to escape a predator. It can grow a new tail but the new tail will not have bones.
Camouflage colours – This gecko has colours that help it blend in with the lichens and tree bark of its forest home.
Common geckos are nocturnal, they are active at night, but may come out to sun bask during the day.
Geckos have no eyelids! A gecko cannot blink. It has a clear scale called a brille covering each eye. The gecko uses its tongue like a car’s windscreen wiper to keep its brilles clean.
Common geckos were once common in the Kepler forest. Unfortunately possums, rats, cats and stoats may have eaten them all.
There is a green gecko living in a glass cage outside the Department of Conservation visitor centre in Te Anau. It was caught over 30 years ago and may be the only one of its type left in the area. This little gecko is a link to the past, a link to a time when these geckos could still be found around Te Anau. Look for him on a warm day and you might see him basking in the sun.
Field trip – There may still be geckos in the Kepler forest. Shining a torch into bushes, and looking for the glow of a gecko’s eyes would be the best way to spot one. Please report any gecko sightings to the Department of Conservation.