Six weeks at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre

by Calum Sweeney

After my degree in Applied Plant Biology at UCC I decided to travel to New Zealand on a working holiday Visa. After exploring the north island for a few weeks in September, I secured a voluntary position at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre for six weeks. Pukaha is a 1000-hectare wildlife reserve consisting of ancient podocarp forests teaming with native birds, many of which are endangered. Most of the conservation work happens in 70 hectares of the reserve. The abundance of birds is no accident though, the populations of birds in the reserve survive and grow thanks to past and ongoing conservation work done by the rangers here. Breeding programmes are used to increase the populations of bird species from the reserve and other native species such as the critically endangered shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) of which there are approximately 180 left. The breeding of wild populations of Kaka (Nestor meridionalis) is promoted by the use of predator proof nesting boxes throughout the reserve. Following the experts on a recent survey of the nesting boxes we found three active kaka nests and it’s only the start of the breeding season!