Raising awareness… Kea Conservation Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker addresses the audience at the community presentation in Wanaka on Tuesday. PHOTO: REBECCA NADGE
About 30 people gathered in Wanaka on Tuesday night for the Kea Conservation Trust’s winter education and advocacy tour, which centred around “the power of community”.
A century-long government bounty, introduced predators, habitat destruction, and ongoing conflict between kea and people have threatened the birds’ survival, and between 3000 and 7000 kea are thought to remain in the wild.
The talk centred around managing conflict between kea and people and the need for communities to help the birds’ plight. Discussion following the talk ranged from the need to use kea-proof animal traps and identifying areas of research that were lacking.
Kea Conservation Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker said the discussion was productive, and was an important aspect of the series.
“That’s one of the important things for us – one of the main things is we go out there, we give people a bit of an update about what’s happening and then throw out some curly ideas to get people giving back some information.
“Everyone in this room has a huge amount of expertise that we don’t have – and a huge amount of knowledge that we don’t have, so it’s about sharing it.”
The birds’ rugged habitat, and funding, meant there were still knowledge gaps about the bird, such as whether there was still sufficient food for them in the wild.
“When we first started there was an idea that kea were declining, it was only once we started looking into it that we realised that no-one knew.
“There just wasn’t any information.”
The Kea Conservation Trust website also encourages people to leave ideas on how to make areas kea-proof, as well as to report problems with the birds online.
“It’s the community that’s going to save kea. We really have to work in a co-ordinated way and everyone has a part to play.
“There’s not one single solution or way to do it.”
She encouraged people to raise awareness about the bird and share ideas.
“Kea represent a whole side of New Zealand that’s important.
“They’re one of those really iconic New Zealand species, the only alpine parrot in the world. They’re endangered and they’re one of the few animal species in the world that likes to interact with people.
“We actually need to be able to learn how to interact with them safely [so] that they’re preserved, otherwise we’re going to end up in a situation where we just don’t see them in the mountains any more.
“In some areas we were talking about local extinctions happening. That’s scary.”
For more information, visit the Kea Conservation Trust at www.keaconservation.co.nz.