01 September 2012
Our efforts in conjunction with the Fiordland Conservation Trust have succeeded in achieving the original goals of eradicating pests and predator species to provide a safer living and breeding habitat for existing native bird species and allow for the reintroduction of the South Island Robin/kakaruai on the Cleddau Delta at Milford Sound. Several successful catch and release of Robin from the Eglington Valley to the Cleddau Delta have now been completed with the new populations establishing well. This has now reduced the project to one of purely maintenance and monitoring.
The project has been fabulously successful and has given a great sense of pride to all involved. We would like to convey our gratitude to all of you that have helped by way of donation. Without this help projects such as this would become much more difficult to see through to fruition. It’s a great win for the environment.
Cruising Milford Sound Ltd along with its trading brands of JUCY Cruize and Eco Tours Fiordland are now looking for a new ecology focused project. Any continuing donations to will be provided to the Fiordland Conservation Trust for use in the maintenance of the Cleddau Delta project until such time a new project is finalised.
Thank you from the Team at ECO Tours and JUCY Cruize.
Eco Tours and Cruize Milford have joined with the Fiordland Conservation Trust to create a predator-free environment on a 40-hectare area of ancient coastal forest covering the old Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound.
Non-native animal pests, including possums, stoats and rats, are threatening native bird species in this area of Fiordland.
As sponsors, Eco Tours and Cruize Milford provide funding for the Cleddau Delta Restoration Project which aims to remove introduced animal pests from the delta, and keep the area predator-free. This will help to increase the survival of existing bird species and eventually lead to the re-introduction of threatened native birds, such as the South Island Robin (Petroica australis australis), which was once common in the area but has since disappeared.
The old Cleddau River delta is an ideal area for creating such a predator-free environment. It is surrounded by water borders of the fiord (Milford Sound), deep water basin and the Cleddau River, which act as natural boundaries to make it difficult for predators to gain access and help with ongoing pest control.
The Fiordland Conservation Trust is a community-driven initiative supporting conservation projects in Fiordland and Southland. It is established to allow donations from individuals and businesses towards specific conservation projects. The Trust enables projects to take place throughout Fiordland and Southland that would otherwise be unachievable without charitable support. The Department of Conservation also contributes to the project as a contractor and administrator of Fiordland National Park and its wildlife.
We believe the Cleddau Delta Restoration Project to be a very worthwhile cause. It enables us to give something back to the environment and provide a boost in native wildlife that can be appreciated by Milford Sound residents and visitors alike. The Cleddau River delta is adjacent to the airstrip and settlement of Milford Sound, and is accessible to the public. Any increase in bird life will be evident for all to see and enjoy.
Work began on funding a project to control introduced animal pests in a 40 ha area of the Cleddau River delta at Milford Sound in September 2007 in order to create a safer breeding environment for native birds. After a 3 ½ years trapping rats, stoats and possum the area was declared ready for the first controlled release of South Island robin.
Twenty four South Island robin/kakaruai were transferred from the nearby Eglington Valley and released into their new home on the delta on 30 March 2010.
The transfer and release was carried out by the Department of Conservation along with the help of 4 school pupils from Fiordland College and Cruising Milford Sound Ltd (Eco Tours Fiordland and JUCY Cruize) staff members Kate Sweetman and Russell Delahunty.
How it all began
New Zealand is one of the most isolated large landmasses in the world. New Zealand’s location 1600km southeast of the continent of Australia in the South Pacific allowed the flora and fauna (plant and wildlife) to evolve uniquely in isolation with very little influence from outside. As a result 80% of the flora and fauna is endemic (unique to and only found in New Zealand).
The major ecological niches that were occupied by mammals in other parts of the world were only occupied by birds in New Zealand. Many became flightless ground-dwelling birds. There were birds of all shapes sizes from very small to a species of moa (type of ratite) that grew up to four meters tall and weighed about 230kg, and an eagle (Haasts eagle) also known as Pouakai, Hokioi or Hakawai by Maori, that had a three meter wingspan and weighed up to 15kg.
There was very little overlap of ecological niches which meant there was little competition for resources. Living in relative harmony, native species weren't prepared for the onslaught of introduced plants and animals brought by the colonisation of human settlers; first with the arrival of Polynesian people (Maori) approximately 1000 years ago, and then by Europeans in the late 1700’s following Captain Cook’s discovery of New Zealand in 1769. The settlers brought plants and animals from their respective homelands that they believed to be beneficial, or simply to provide reminders of where they came from.
Some were stowaways such as ship rats but most were introduced deliberately. Of the 53 mammals introduced, 31 lived in the wild. Many of these new inhabitants found their adopted homeland a perfect place to flourish.
With an ideal climate, plenty of natural resources and no natural predators to keep numbers in check, the populations of these newly introduced species grew rapidly. Native species were not so lucky. Hunting practices and the decline of natural habitats meant many native species were simply unable to compete and adapt, leading to a huge number of extinctions.
Since human settlement in New Zealand extinctions have included one bat, at least 51 birds, three frogs, three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plant species, and a number of invertebrates. Today over 100 plant species and many animal species are classified as critical or endangered. Some birds are still declining and birds such as the Stead’s Bush wren, South Island Snipe and South Island Kōkako haven’t been seen alive since the 1960s.
It’s fair to say that early colonisers of New Zealand, both Maori and European, weren't aware of the potential havoc they were about to unleash, yet it could also be said that the most destructive pest to arrive in New Zealand was man. Fortunately, we have improved greatly in recognising the errors of our ways, and trying to put things right where we can. There are many similar projects taking place throughout New Zealand – all individually quite small but collectively much bigger, and most importantly, they are making a difference.
There are many ways to contribute: a donation is one method (many thanks if you have done so). There are also those that roll up their sleeves and work as volunteers helping the Department of Conservation with its many worthwhile causes.
As tourists, your contribution can be as simple as buying some of the many souvenirs and clothing items made from the skins and fur of predators.
In many countries, particularly in the northern hemisphere, there are strong anti-fur lobbies. One of the best known and prominent is the Brigitte Bardot Foundation (Fondation Brigitte Bardot) for the welfare and protection of animals. The foundation does an enormous amount of good work for animal welfare and is very vocal about the use of fur. Its anti-fur lobby has contributed to a major decline in the use of fur in fashion. It has raised issues such as inhumane killing methods, declining populations and the reduction of natural habitat, and is very proactive in finding ways to protect animal species.
This is not too dissimilar to the motivation for our project. However, some of the most dangerous introduced pests threatening native species in New Zealand do not belong here and happen to have fur; beautifully soft and luxuriously warm fur that can be made into a huge range of products.
These furry animals must be removed in order to help safeguard the future of our native species, so buying New Zealand-made products containing fur from pests like the possum will help our environment. Your purchases will support the hunting and trapping industries, aid in the removal of pests, and give threatened species a helping hand. In return you get high-quality garments and the peace of mind that you have made a positive contribution to the environment.
The Cleddau Delta Restoration Project is proudly supported by Eco Tours, Cruize Milford & the Fiordland Conservation Trust.