Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island also known as Tiri is a wildlife sanctuary managed by company named D.o.c. (Department Of Conservation). Tiri is located 30 km North East of Central Auckland and just 4 km from Whangaparaoa Peninsula.  A hundred and twenty years of farming had seen this 220-hectare island stripped of 94% of its native bush but between 1984 and 1994, volunteers planted between 250,000 and 300,000 trees. The Island is now 60% forested with the remaining 40% left as grassland for species preferring open habitat.

Tiri is a home to many endangered species such as the flightless Takahe, bellbird and the little spotted Kiwi. Tiri is mainly known for its birdlife it also has reptiles such as the tuatara and the Moko Skink. The Takahe is a very special bird. The island also has many different types of plants and native bushes. Some native bushes are the Makaka, Rewarewa and Annual Hibiscus.   

In the past the island had a couple of pests like the Kiore (Polynesian Rat) and the Argentine Ant. They had no choice but to get rid of them due to them eating the bird's eggs and taking over. The Kiore was known to be a threat for New Zealand's native birds. At one point there was 200 Kiore in the grass per hectare. When it was realised that kiore were having a major effect on the environment and with advances in technology eradication became possible. People checked the amount of bird losses and realised that there was way to many. This is was because of the pest Kiore.  A drop of an anticoagulant brodifacoum ( poison ) from a helicopter was carried out in 1993. Ninety percent of pukeko were killed after the poison drop and some ground feeding birds brown quail, blackbirds, sparrows and mynas were also killed. The Kiore that was hiding in the grass also got killed due to the poison.  

The other pest that has been eradicated from Tiritiri Matangi Island was the Argentine Ant. The vigilance of a DOC entomologist lead to the discovery of Argentine ants near the wharf in 2000. These ants arrived here from the wharf building material and the whole swarm was moved, not just one or two ants. They are one of the world’s most invasive species overtaking our native ants and so a 5 year eradication programme was set up. They eat a wide variety of foods, have been reported to attack nesting birds and kill nestlings, and invade native ecosystems and displace native ant species. They can also produce multiple queens and can form huge super-colonies that extend for thousands of kilometres. Luckily the ants were only discovered at two locations near the wharf and at Northwest Bay. The eradication involved hand laying bait at 2-3 m intervals on a grid.  This involved the help of many volunteers and favourable weather. By 2004 only two nests remained and these were spot treated to ensure their total eradication. This is the first time a total eradication of ants has been achieved in such a large area of New Zealand.

Tiritiri Matangi Island is a very special and safe place and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to see a flightless Takahe up close.

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