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Hard work from South Auckland residents has led to a drop in rat and possum numbers in the South-East Wildlink, despite challenging mast year conditions.

Over the past year, rat numbers in the Forest & Bird conservation project have fallen from 14% to 12% and possum numbers have dropped from 10% to 5%, says project manager Naomi Harrison.

“We’re totally rapt with these results,” Ms Harrison says.

“The community has done such a great job knocking back rats and possums that there’s a good chance all the birds, insects and lizards in the Wildlink will have a successful breeding season.”

For many years, Forest & Bird volunteers have carried out pest control in its two reserves in the Wildlink – the 20 acre Olive Davis Reserve and the 37 acre Ngaheretuku Reserve - and in 120 acres of adjoining bush.

Over the past two years, the community has banded together to help rid the Wildlink of predators.

About 25 South Auckland landowners have been controlling rats, possums and stoats on private properties within the Wildlink.

Pest control is helping about 35 species of birds that make their homes in the Wildlink, including the kākā, which is a threatened native parrot.

Long-tailed bats, which have the highest threat ranking of nationally critical, have also been detected in the Wildlink area.

“Our predator control here could play a vital part in the survival of bat populations in South Auckland,” Ms Harrison says.

The drop in pest numbers comes despite it being a mast year. In many areas, the heavy fruiting of native trees means rat and possum numbers are rising fast and difficult to control.

Ms Harrison provides a free service creating pest control plans for landowners and setting up traps and bait stations on their properties. The trap and bait station locations are mapped with GPS technology.

The Wildlink aims to create a corridor of native bush between the two Forest & Bird reserves, Totara Park, Auckland Botanic Gardens, and Clevedon Scenic Reserve in South Auckland. This will provide safe habitat for native birds and other wildlife to feed, roost and breed.

“We hope to get more local landowners involved, so we can create a sanctuary for all our native wildlife in South Auckland,” Ms Harrison says.

“This will allow birds and bats to have a safe, green corridor that connects from islands in the Hauraki Gulf to the regional parks in Hūnua and Waitākere.”

This summer, recording devices will be used to detect potential bat populations within the Wildlink. These devices capture the bats’ echolocation calls that are mostly too high for the human ear to hear.

Images:

For high resolution images of Naomi Harrison and landowner Nicky Auld, who is actively involved with pest control; kaka; and the landscape in the South-East Wildlink, click on this Dropbox link.

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