No rest for the biodiversity rangers

Department of Conservation —  05/05/2020

Most conservation work has been put on hold as we do our part to stop the spread, but for our biodiversity rangers, they’ve simply shifted to a new way of working which builds on their mahi pre-lockdown.

For one dedicated ranger, her work day changed from that of monitoring the Canterbury mudfish populations out in the field to analysing the data (over 18 years of it!) from home.

Allanah, a Biodiversity Ranger from the Mahaanui District in Canterbury, is busy at work whether or not there’s a global pandemic. This is her life before the lockdown and during Alert Levels 4 and 3.

Life before the lockdown

Video: Weighing and measuring the mudfish

Pre-lockdown, Allanah had set minnow traps the day before and arrived that day to see how many and in what state the mudfish were at this site. This involves a visual inspection, checking for fungal growth (is the water quality affecting them?), their length and weight (are they finding enough to eat?), and sometimes, coming across the pregnant mudfish. This particular stream hadn’t been sampled before and came up on the radar as a site that was being looked at for future flood remediation works. They got a lot of mudfish that day (67 in fact), most of which were a healthy weight.

Pictured: Measuring the mudfish found in the Canterbury region

The local office have been sampling streams and ponds for Canterbury mudfish for many years and the data Allanah is working on dates back to 2002. There is a great source of data to help them make sure that this threatened species (Nationally Critical) is trending in a better direction.

Pictured: Hazel and Stella, who helped as volunteers for the day
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mudfish-in-Habitat-1.jpg

Life at Alert Levels 4 and 3

With at least 18 years of mudfish data on hand (not to mention all the data from other biodiversity monitoring from many other species and over many years, not just fish), there’s no shortage of work to analyse, tidy up and eventually report on.

Allanah has had some special help from Rocco the Chihuahua to take some massive “bites” out of the data. She has used this time in lockdown to create a comprehensive searchable database that she and other rangers can use to make analysing trends in the data so much easier.

Pictured: Rocco the Chihuahua helping owner Allanah with data analysis

While we know all our rangers would love to get back out in the field, they are content to make sure they are doing their job to NZ eliminate COVID-19, by staying at home, but are still finding ways to make sure their time is being put to good use for future conservation efforts.

Kia kaha.

One response to No rest for the biodiversity rangers

    Peter Hallinan 05/05/2020 at 5:39 pm

    Great story. How secure is their habitat from interference?