Working together for a common cause was the aim of the game for volunteers attending the annual Ruahine Whio Protectors hui this month.
Who are the Ruahine Whio Protectors?
The Ruahine Whio Protectors are a collaboration of dedicated volunteers from a variety of groups who are leading the stoat trapping work in the Ruahine Range. The Ruahines are home to endangered native species like whio, kiwi and a small number of kākā – all of which are vulnerable to stoats.
The work of the Ruahine Whio Protectors is one example of the incredible results being achieved by communities, businesses and government working towards the goal of a predator free New Zealand by 2050.
Why are the Ruahine Whio Protectors important?
The Ruahine Ranges are now the southernmost limit for whio in the North Island, they are extinct further south. The goal of the Ruahine Whio Protectors is to contribute to the survival of the species by holding the line and effectively stop their range from contracting further.
The Collective is achieving this by having keen, motivated and passionate volunteers, some driving up to five hours every month to check traps. Successful funding applications has also enabled many of their trap lines to be extended. However, their main measure of success is the whio themselves. Using specialised whio dogs from the Whio Recovery Programme several catchment areas were surveyed last year and the whio populations found to be holding their own. Without this predator control the numbers would significantly decrease.
What is the significance of the hui?
The annual hui gives all those involved a bigger picture of what is happening with whio and other species in the ranges, helping to create a sense of community and common purpose. It provides an opportunity for volunteers to meet others involved in the work, discuss challenges and successes and report back on what they are seeing at their sites. It also allows them to share resources and knowledge to increase efficiencies going forward.