New Zealand blue ducks fighting for survival

This video says about itself:

Rare New Zealand Blue Duck preening at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. The Blue duck has become scarce because imported mammals eat its eggs or young. It also has the interesting practice of only mating with its relatives! I don’t know if the Wetland people have managed to get them to breed in captivity. I included a shot of the artificial waterfall that’s been provided to make it feel at home.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record breeding year for Endangered Blue duck

05/02/2011 08:53:33

Blue Duck/Whio

The blue duck (or whio; Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) is a unique threatened species of waterfowl endemic to New Zealand. It is the only member of its genus and has no close relative anywhere in the world.

The blue duck is believed to have appeared at a very early stage in evolutionary history and the species’ isolation in New Zealand has resulted in it acquiring a number of unique anatomical and behavioural features.

* The exact number of whio is unknown but is estimated to be around 2000 individuals.
* There is a marked sex bias towards males, especially in areas without stoat control. This is due to the female being solely responsible for incubation and some being killed by stoats whilst on the nest.
* They are found both in the North and South Island.
* They live on clean fast flowing waterways and feed mainly on the freshwater invertebrates.
* They are one of only four duck species worldwide that spend their entire life in river habitat. Whio have no closely related species.
* The whio features on New Zealand’s $10 note.

More about the Blue duck on the NZ Department of Conservation website.

Record breaking season for Blue duck (whio) in Fiordland

February 2011. A record number of whio ducklings have been observed this summer during the annual river surveys in Northern Fiordland. So far a grand total of eighty-eight ducklings have been sighted, and this number is likely to increase as the remaining rivers are surveyed. The past record was fifty-five ducklings during the summer of 2008/09.

This marked increase has been made possible by the combined effort of sponsors, community groups and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Stoats a major cause of decline

“Stoats have been identified as a major cause of decline in the whio population” DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Andrew Smart said. “Just five years ago whio were considered nationally endangered, but today, large areas of ongoing stoat control have been established for the protection of whio”.

Real Journeys

Real Journeys, who have been sponsoring whio in Fiordland since 2005, have played a significant role in this outcome. “Without their support we would be not be where we are today” Mr Smart said. The Fiordland Wapiti Foundation have established and maintained a stoat control programme in the Worsley and Castle catchment since 2005. Trips and Tramps along with the members of the Milford Sound community have assisted with the trapping in the Cleddau catchment. It was once rare to see whio ducklings in these areas. This is a dramatic turn around.

In northern Fiordland alone, over 163km of waterways are now under sustained stoat control.

In areas that do not receive predator control whio numbers are still in decline.

Threatened by new dam

However there is a dark cloud on the horizon. A huge new dam proposed for the Mokihinui Valley, which is home to a population of Whio. The land is owned by the DOC and the dam will rely on permission from the DOC to build on that land.

Join the campaign to stop the Mokihinui Dam.

Endangered Blue ducks relocated to New Zealand’s fjordland: here.

Researchers at The University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury are calling for stronger action to protect and increase native bird populations after finding proof that low bird numbers are causing a decline in plant life. A study carried out by Sandra Anderson from The University of Auckland working with four University of Canterbury researchers, has found that the New Zealand shrub Rhabdothamnus solandri, or New Zealand Gloxinia, was slowly declining on the mainland because the endemic birds that used to pollinate it have largely disappeared: here.

April 2011: The announcement of the creation of a statutory Game Animal Council in New Zealand has been greeted with dismay by those worried that the move will undermine conservation of forests and native wildlife in the country: here.

1 thought on “New Zealand blue ducks fighting for survival

  1. Pingback: New Zealand penguins | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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