Dunedin is home to a number of critically endangered, regionally rare and declining species.
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Predator Free Dunedin
Through the Predator Free Dunedin project, locals seek to claim the position of being the wildlife capital of New Zealand (Wellington will be keen to claim this label too!) and help their native species thrive.
The Otago Peninsula is the only mainland breeding colony in the world of the Northern Royal Albatross/Toroa. Yellow Eyed Penguin/Hoiho and Little Blue Penguin/kororā also make their home on the peninsula and the Orokonui Sanctuary is bringing South Island kaka and robins, bellbird, tui and many more birds back to the area. Then there is the jewelled gecko, one of our at risk reptiles.
Predator Free Dunedin forms an umbrella organisation for over 20 well-established Dunedin volunteer groups and larger organisations representing a wealth of Otago conservation experience.
The project aims to remove possums from the 9,000 ha Otago Peninsula within five years. A local group, the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, have already trapped 16,000 possums since 2011.
On the other side of Port Chalmers the Halo Project aims to create a safe haven for birds in the 55,000 hectares surrounding the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. The goal is to reduce possums and stoats to very low numbers, by 2021.
Between these two areas is Dunedin city and 20 percent of urban households will be encouraged to undertake predator control. Predators will also be completely removed from two small ‘stepping stone’ islands in Otago Harbour.
The project will utilise Dunedin’s specialist expertise in conservation management, education and information and communications technologies and is backed by provisions in the Regional Pest Management Plan.
In October 2019 significant progress was made with OSPRI’s contribution to the project. An estimated 2,000 possums were removed from the Flagstaff area over six weeks, with zero possums detected after trapping and toxin application.
Scoping is underway on the feasibility of a possum aversion fence along the base of the Otago Peninsula and also along SH1. The initial design is based on an idea developed by Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group Trustee Brendon Cross. It is currently being tested at ZIP’s animal behaviour facility.