Kaimanawa Bat Project

The Central North Island Sika Foundation and NZDA Taupo are working on an interesting project where hunters are using bush navigation skills to help protect our native wildlife for all New Zealanders to enjoy.     

In this case, it’s carrying out bat monitoring in the Kaimanawa Forest Park with Becky O’Sullivan from the Department of Conservation.

New Zealand’s two species of bats, long-tailed and short-tailed, are our only native land mammals. The long-tailed bat is classed as ‘nationally critical’, while the short-tailed bat subspecies range from ‘nationally vulnerable’ to ‘recovering’.

Both species are in danger of extinction in the medium term if nothing is done to reverse their population declines which makes the work of the Sika Foundation and NZDA volunteers especially valuable.

The monitoring project involves volunteers going into the project area and setting up recording devises to detect and count the ultrasonic calls of bats. The recording devices are left in place for seven days then the information is downloaded and analysed to determine if any bats are in the area.

The first area to be surveyed is the Kaipo River where the Sika Foundation has the Whio Recovery Project trap line in place on Stage 1 of the Kaimanawa Whio Recovery Project. Recording devices supplied by DOC will be placed about 200 metres apart in the vicinity of the traps on the true right of the Kaipo River.

Sika Foundation and NZDA members Mike Main, Karen Murray, Brad and McKenzie Russell went into the Kaipo and set up the 15 recording devices on Sunday, November 3, 2019.

They went back in after seven days accompanied by Becky so the data could be downloaded into Becky’s laptop and then the devices will be placed on the next 15 traps up the river to cover the next section. Taking Becky in with her laptop means the devices don’t need to be brought out then taken back in, saving time and allowing a larger area to be surveyed.

The exciting news is that native bats have been found in the Kaipo. Bats have been picked up on the recordings. Becky has had a quick look at the data, and she thinks it could be long tailed bats but she will carry out further analyses and provide us with another update. We look forward to continuing to work with her to identify populations of bats in the area.