When Ranger Tommy McKerras began his DOC traineeship, identifying kākāpō by their unique personalities wasn’t a talent he expected to develop.
Raised in a timber joinery factory family, his goal was to upskill in hut and bridge building. Two years into his Kākāpō Recovery work, there’s no looking back and Tommy says his special connection to this endangered species is one of the best parts of his job.
This World Ranger Day we’re shining a light on behind-the-scenes people like Tommy and work that supports endemic species’ survival. This includes the tech wizardry that keeps the lights on, the incubators warm and the power flowing in remote places like Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, 71 kilometres off the mainland.
Tommy spent time this week with Neil Smith, an engineer from DOC’s national partner Meridian, checking performance of the batteries which store the solar power. Installed by Meridian before the breeding season, this renewable energy system is critical for tasks that support kākāpō health monitoring like downloading and interpreting transmitter and scales data.
We’re also using 3D-printed smart eggs that can emit life-like sounds. We’re hoping they’ll trigger a preparation response in kākāpō mums at just the right time. Meridian Energy has made the innovation possible through additional funding provided to help drive this innovation in kākāpō recovery. The technology could be rolled out globally to help other endangered species.
Thanks to ongoing support from partners like Ngāi Tahu and Meridian, we’re celebrating one of the most successful breeding seasons on record.