By Robyn Orchard, Communications Advisor
Whio Awareness Month got off to an early start with the release of six blue duck/whio on Mount Taranaki last Friday.
There to do the honours was Minister of Conservation Hon Maggie Barry, local iwi, DOC staff and a group of ‘Whio Ambassador’ students.
This was the first of three releases planned for captive-bred blue ducks over the next 4-6 weeks. The six whio released on Friday were hatched at Isaac Wildlife and Conservation Trust and Orana Park in Christchurch and hardened at the whio hardening facility in Turangi.
Another 12 whio will be released on Thursday on the Manganui o te Ao River in the Whanganui National Park.The final three North Island captive bred whio will be released in the Tongariro area at the beginning of April.
The South Island will see a cluster of whio releases during Whio Awareness Month. Six whio fledglings will be released into the north branch of the Routeburn, five juvenile whio ducks will be released into the Oparara River, and four wild fledglings will be translocated from the Arthur Valley to either Rock Burn or Beans Burn sometime during the month.
About Whio Awareness Month
DOC is once again promoting Whio Awareness Month during March, alongside our Whio Forever partner Genesis Energy. A number of whio-related activities are planned for the month.
The annual Great Whio Adventure competition kicks off today and runs for the whole month. This year there are two prize packages offered, one each for the North and South Island. The prize package gives two adults and two children the chance to have a whio adventure in the wild, including return flights, accommodation and a day out with the whio ranger.
Help support Whio Awareness Month by promoting the Great Whio Adventure and the family-friendly events to continue educating people about this precious bird.
The annual Whio Family Fun weekend in conjunction with Auckland Zoo, Genesis Energy and DOC will be held this weekend – March 5 – 6.
Whio rangers from Opotiki, Tongariro and Whanganui will be talking whio to the more than 7000 people expected at the zoo during the weekend. They will be ‘herding the ducks’ during the annual blue duck race on both days on the stream running through the zoo near the whio enclosure.
The Great Fiordland Whio Race will be held in Fiordland for the second year on March 19th on the Upukeroa River in Te Anau. The inaugural event was very successful and raised more than $600 for local whio conservation. As well as the race there is a BBQ, dress up competition, face painting and a chance to meet the local conservation dogs.
A new ‘Whio Forever’ education resource is now online for teachers on the DOC website.
Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation have partnered together in a five year programme to secure the future of this unique vulnerable native bird. Operating under the name of Whio Forever this partnership is fast tracking implementation of the national Whio Recovery Plan to protect whio and increase public awareness.
The support of Genesis Energy is enabling DOC to double the number of fully secure whio breeding sites throughout the country, boost pest control efforts and enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.