24 November 2022
Predator Free 2050 Limited has today announced it will provide $5 million in funding over two years for Te Manahuna Aoraki Project to remove predators across the upper Mackenzie Basin to the crest of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.
Within this landscape are New Zealand’s highest mountains, most pristine braided rivers, and vast tussock drylands. These iconic and outstanding ecosystems provide a stronghold for many threatened native species such as kea, tuke (rock wren), ngutu parore (wrybill), Mackenzie skink and robust grasshopper, and the world’s rarest wading bird, kakī (black stilt).
“The funding announced today, from the Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao – Jobs for Nature initiative, is destined to help protect these native species by demonstrating the pathway to predator elimination in a dryland ecosystem. The methods developed here can then be applied in other similar East Coast environments as we continue to work towards the goal of a Predator Free Aotearoa by 2050,” says acting chair Katie Milne.
“What’s unique about this project is that to be successful it needs to break the food chain by eliminating rabbits. Rabbits are major prey for feral cats, ferrets and stoats and can attract them into the region.
“A major focus for us through this project is developing approaches that can break the predator food chain in a way that is scalable. This is a proudly ambitious project, and we’re excited by the challenge posed and what we can learn from it.”
Te Manahuna Aoraki Project chair Dr Jan Wright says this funding secures the next phase of the project. “A strong focus over the last four years has been undertaking conservation work to protect braided river and alpine species, and understanding the critical challenges ahead. The funding from PF2050 Ltd allows us to test pest elimination techniques across different environments, before scaling operations across larger expanses of the project area.
“A huge thanks to all our partners, who continue to support our vision of a vast predator free mainland island protecting some of New Zealand’s rarest native species. With them we will also continue working on other fronts, removing invasive weeds and developing initiatives to enhance sites of ecological and cultural importance.”
Te Manahuna Aoraki Project is working with Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) to develop and implement the pest elimination programme. ZIP has already had success eliminating predators in neighbouring South Westland.
A map of the project area is attached.
About Te Manahuna Aoraki Project
Te Manahuna Aoraki Project is a charitable trust launched in 2018 to protect and revitalise 310,000 hectares of land across the upper Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Around 40% of the project area is managed as high country farms, with the remainder being crown land – a mix of pastoral, defence and conservation estate.
Over the past four years Te Manahuna Aoraki Project has been researching the challenges relating to predator elimination in this environment. Its project partners include the Department of Conservation (DOC), Next Foundation, Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Te Rūnanga o Waihao, local landowners, Toitū te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Jasmine Social Investments, Re:Wild and Aotearoa Foundation.
You can learn more about the project’s goals and its team at https://www.temanahunaaoraki.org/our-story/.