By Trudi Ngawhare, Partnerships Ranger, Gisborne
Recently, we lost a “totara” for conservation.
Tiki the conservation dog passed away at the prime age of 11 (human) years.
Tiki was based at Motu, in the Gisborne region, with Ranger Joe Waikari and whānau.
Ranger Joe Waikari describes Tiki as an “energizer battery, he never went flat”.
More travelled than most humans, Tiki’s work would take him (and Joe) all over the country: island work; in the back country… anywhere where extensive pest control programmes were in place, to ensure mustelid populations were gone from the area.
Tiki, was part of the Conservation Dog Programme. These detection dogs are trained to locate specific target species—either protected or predator. This helps the handler to capture and monitor protected species, or eradicate the pest species through trapping, poisoning or shooting.
Joe says the highlight in working with Tiki has been “doing our part in protecting our endangered species”.
Tiki was also a public relations specialist, winning over the crowds with his unassuming charm. He attended A&P shows and school talks, and he was a great advocate for conservation efforts with many children declaring that they wanted to go home to teach their dogs to be like Tiki.
Also a valued whānau member, Tiki was the champion in the small dogs category at the Matawai School Pet Day a couple of years running.
Tiki is a tribute to all conservation dogs that quietly go about their work (for cuddles and food), making huge gains for conservation.
He whakamaumahara ki a ‘Tiki’, he kuri o te papa atawhai. Moe mai e hoa, moe mai. A tribute to Tiki, the conservation dog. Rest easy friend, rest easy.
Watch this video tribute to Tiki but be careful of ‘dust getting in your eyes’: