A quick update from the this weekend’s trap service for both Kaipo stage 1 and Oamaru stage 2 of the Central North Island Sika Foundation Kaimanawa Whio Recovery Project in the Kaimanawa Forest Park.

It is now 12 months since we started by setting out 110 A24 Goodnatutre stoat and rat traps in stage 1 of the project on the Kaipo River in August last year. These traps were due for their second six monthly full service, which involves replacing all of the gas cylinders and lure.

A team of 10 volunteers went in on Friday 16th August and carried out the service, checking and re-zeroing the counters at the same time. 65 hits were recorded, well down on past checks, maybe we have reduced the predator numbers in the area or they are not moving around so much during the winter, but once we have had another full year we should see a pattern emerge.

Five Whio were seen by the team so looking positive, we are now regularly seeing Whio on the river when we are working on the traps. A group of hunters in the hut reported seeing four Whio on the Kaipo as well, could have been the same ones but more and more people are reporting sightings of Whio in the area so this is encouraging for all involved.

The next day 17th August, a team of 13 volunteers carried out a full service on stage 2 of the project, the 73 traps that were installed on the Oamaru River in February this year, this was the first six-monthly full service for these traps. Some stayed over from the Kaipo team and we also had some fresh legs come in on Friday afternoon to help out. 71 strikes were recorded from these traps, once again well down on previous counts.

This is an important time to service the traps and have them in good working order as we are now approaching the breeding season, so these traps are now all fully serviced to protect Whio at this critical time.

We were lucky with the weather, Friday was a good day with only a couple of lite showers on Saturday, and just as we got out to the Helisika car park on Saturday afternoon the rain really came down so good timing!

We had seven new faces this trip with volunteers traveling from Wellington, Masterton, New Plymouth, Kawerau, Whakatane, Tauranga, and Cambridge, along with our local contingent to help out. Thanks to all of the team for giving up your time to be involved in this project, without your help it wouldn’t happen.

One of the things that makes this project so enjoyable is the fantastic bunch of people who are involved, it’s always a fun day on the river and a pleasure to be with such a positive and hard-working group, it’s a big day on the river and at this time of year the water is a bit chilly but there are never any complaints, just plenty of friendly banter to keep everyone on their toes!

This project also relies on the generosity of our sponsors so once again a very special thank you for your generosity, projects like this do make a difference and help protect our unique native wildlife, especially nationally endangered species such as the Whio.

For the first 12 months on stage 1 the Kaipo River we have recorded 867 hits on the counters and for the first six months on Stage 2 the Oamaru River 348 hits making a total of 1215 predators removed from the 20 km of river these traps are protecting. As mentioned the results are starting to show with more Whio being sighted, not just by us but other park users as well, plus this will be benefitting all other native wildlife in the area, something for our sponsors and volunteers to be proud of.

As always a special thanks to Poronui for allowing us vehicle access through their property, without this we would not be able to manage this project, and Helisika who fly our teams into the top end of the trap lines free of charge, making this project more manageable, saving our volunteers a lot of walking and time.

Also a special thanks to all of our sponsors, please support them whenever you can as without their generous support we would not have a project, and of course a big thanks to our dedicated team of volunteers who give up their time with some traveling considerable distances and taking time off work to help out.

If you have any queries, call Gary Harwood, project lead, on 027 487 2304