The Central North Island Sika Foundation Kaimanawa Whio Recovery Project Update

by Gary Harwood

On Thursday 13 June a team of nine volunteers led by Mike Main went into the Kaipo River to check the traps and record the number of hits on the counters. These traps were installed in August last year and fully serviced after six months in February with new gas canisters and lure, so it is four months since they were last checked.

The weather played it’s part with a fine day after rain the day before making the bush very wet but no rain on the day. 303 hits were recorded on the counters from the 110 traps. The average number of hits per month in the first six months these traps were installed is 83, and in the four months since they were checked and serviced in August then checked on Thursday is 76, so a slight decrease in predator kills over the past four months, which is a good sign.

With the 277 kills recorded on the Oamaru trap line on Friday 25 May this makes a total of 580 predators removed from the two rivers over the past four months, this will not only benefit the Whio population but all of the other native wildlife that live in the vicinity as well, something that our sponsors and volunteers should be very proud of, knowing we are making a difference is a really satisfying feeling.

One disappointing aspect was that one trap has been stolen, trap number 11. The crew checking this trap found the holes in the tree where the trap was and also the hole where the blue triangle marker was also removed. It is extremally frustrating to see this sort of thing happen, our sponsors have given hard earned money to us to purchase these traps and our volunteers have worked hard to make this project a huge success to date. I personally struggle to understand what would motivate someone to do this and what sort of person they are, if anyone knows who may have done this please give us a call, we would like to talk to whoever is responsible and explain what we are doing and why, maybe this person would like to give their time to something positive in their life, like helping us maintain these traps.

The really exciting news is the team encountered 13 Whio for the day, with seven of these upstream of our main trap line in the area where Brohn set two traps in a location where he new there was a small population of Whio, so we are definitely seeing greater numbers of Whio spread throughout the area where we have the traps, a huge increase from the one pair we observed before we set out the traps on this river 10 months ago, so very encouraging news.

The team who went in were Mike Main, Marty Noakes, Ian Ambrose, Josh Van der Valk, Mike Hodge, Stu Emerson, Brohn Torckler, Andy Warnford and Kikki Friendensburge. We had an international addition to the team this time with Kikki from Germany joining us as she is spending time in New Zealand, a big thanks to everyone for giving up your time to be there on the day and doing such a great job.

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 our sponsors 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.

We would like to give special thanks to our partners and sponsors – listed here in alphabetical order.
Our work would not be possible without their ongoing support. To find out more about sponsorship options and ways you can help us make a difference, please contact us today.

If you have any queries just call me any time.


Gary Harwood
Project Coordinator
Mobile: 027 487 2304