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Because of its geographical location, New Zealand is home to some unique and ancient wildlife found nowhere else in the world. Other than bats, New Zealand has no native land mammals, making it a prime location for the evolution of bird species. But unfortunately, there are many threats to these native species and the populations of most surviving native species have been heavily reduced.
The introduction of certain animals has resulted in considerable damage to the native New Zealand bush. Some of these animals, such as rats, were brought in hundreds of years ago as stowaways on canoes or ships but some were introduced for a reason.
Possums were brought to New Zealand in 1837 to start a fur industry, however their numbers quickly got out of control. It is estimated there are now 30 million possums in New Zealand, which means seven possums to every single person. Possums like to eat the new growth of our native trees as well as the eggs and chicks of our native birds, with an estimated 9,000 tonnes of foliage and fruit eaten every single night.
Rats also enjoy eating our birds and since their accidental introduction 700 years ago have developed a taste for insects like Weta, lizards and native frogs. They also eat a lot of the fruit and seeds in our native forests so that no new plants can grow.
Rabbits were brought to New Zealand in the 1830’s for food and sport, however their prolific breeding meant their numbers grew very quickly. This was an issue for New Zealand’s farming economy, due to the damage they did to the land. Stoats were introduced from Britain in 1880 to control the rabbits and hares, however they quickly discovered that birds, particularly ground nesting species who have little means of escaping, were also easy to catch. Stoats have since had a devastating effect on our beloved kiwi, kokako and kea.
Programmes to manage and remove animal pests are essential for the survival of New Zealand's special native species and ecosystems, including our national icon, the kiwi.
Rotorua Canopy Tours operate a unique canopy level zipline tour in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve near Rotorua. They have a vision to remove all introduced predators from the area and create a safe forest sanctuary for the restoration of New Zealand fauna and flora.
With the support of the Department of Conservation, Rotorua Canopy Tours, through their conservation initiative The Forest Restoration Project, plan to restore the entire 500 hectare Dansey Road Scenic Reserve to how it would have existed in pre-human times. They plan to do this by removing all introduced mammal pests to the Reserve and bringing back the birdlife. The project is already seeing results with over 800 animals now removed from around the canopy tour area.
Funds to support the program are generated through Rotorua Canopy Tour’s customers who in payment for their tour contribute a percentage to the conservation work of the company. Individuals and businesses also have the opportunity to donate and to sponsor parts of the project.
To learn more about the conservation work of Rotorua Canopy Tours or to book your canopy tour zip line high amongst spectacular native New Zealand forest check out their website.
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