We’ve got lots of great activities to help get kids interested in restoring New Zealand’s native species.
Before getting started, it’s important to understand New Zealand’s unique ecological context, the reasons we need to make Aotearoa predator free, and the crucial role children play in this vision.
Make sure children and anyone who is teaching this content know about these predator free fundamentals below.
1. Our wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth
About 85 million years ago, New Zealand split away from Gondwana land. On this land mass, in relative isolation, plants and animals developed away from the threat of mammalian predators (possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels and cats). As a result many of our birds nest and/or fledge on the ground and some don’t fly at all. This makes them very susceptible to predation by predators.
This isolation means many of our birds, bats, insects and frogs are found no where else on Earth, it’s unique and special to Aotearoa.
2. The real reason for making NZ predator free
It’s extremely important to explain to our kids the reason why we are undertaking this challenge. We aren’t doing this because we enjoy removing introduced mammals such as possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels, cats and hedgehogs. Our vision is to remove predators to help give our native species an environment where they can thrive again.
Our ancestors introduced these mammalian predators many years ago and the environment in New Zealand has allowed their to thrive, as a result many of native species are in serious trouble. Our native birds, bats, reptiles and insects are in decline. Did you know we have the highest rate of threatened species in the world? Around 81% of our birds, 88% of our reptiles and 72% of our freshwater fish are currently endangered.
While we have good reasons for wanting to remove introduced predators it is essential we do this with respect for all living animals and we use tools that are as humane and effective as possible. As well as removing introduced predators, monitoring our native species and restoring and protecting their habitats are other ways children can help.
3. Why it is important for children to be involved
We believe it’s important to teach our tamariki about how precious our native species are so they value what we have and are invested in protecting them in the future.
Just like how recycling and being sun smart are becoming second-nature to our children’s generation, we want predator free activities to become the same.
4. OK, let’s get started
If you are a parent/caregiver or guardian
We suggest you start trapping in your backyard with your kids, this has has loads of benefits. It can help get rid of rats from your compost bin, save your roses and fruit trees from possums, but most importantly it can make your garden a safe place for our unique native wildlife to live.
Also, check out our Wildeyes website. It’s packed with heaps of nature activities that you may enjoying doing with your kids.
If you are a teacher in NZ
A great way to get started is by reading our School Guidelines which outlines the 4 steps you should take when starting predator control activities in your schoolyard. We have also collated loads of useful resources for you to use, if you know of any others you think we should add, please email us.
- Lesson plans — we have a kete packed with useful environmental resources for teachers including specific predator control lesson plans for years 4 – 8.
- Introduced predator facts — useful information about introduced predators including possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels and rats.
- Native bird facts — quickly find facts on our unique native birds and the introduced predators that impact them.
- Slideshows & videos — a collection of videos and slideshows to share with your class about NZ’s wildlife, including a video on why we need to make NZ predator free and footage showing the impact predators have on our native species.
- Hands on activities — including planning and implementing restoration projects, making chew cards, tracking tunnels, houses for animals and footprint mysteries to solve.
- Related books to read — a collection of beautiful picture books and novels about NZ’s unique native species — all could can be read alone or read out loud.
- Games & quizzes — cards to trade and collect, online quizzes and other fun games to engage tamariki in saving our native species.
Find many more resources in our Kids & Schools toolkit — it’s jam packed with great information.