Last month we told the story of the Nina Valley ‘Ecoblitz’ — a monumental collaboration involving scientists, senior high school students, university students, teachers, and helpers working together to discover and document the species of North Canterbury’s Nina Valley and surrounds.
Captain Whio (aka Biodiversity Ranger Tim Allerby) and his trusted side-duck, Duck Girl (Community Relations Ranger Moana Smith-Dunlop) have been tracking their arch-nemesis, Sinister Stoat, for some time. Thanks to their super powers, amazing whio tracking devices, and the sophisticated Stoat Proximity Alarm, the whiotastic superheroes have tailed the sneaky mustelid all the way from Fiordland, to Waikaremoana, Ohuka and eventually Ruakituri. They have the map with pins on to prove it!
Children at Waikaremoana, Ohuka and Ruakituri Schools first came to Captain Whio’s attention as passionate whio fans when they stunned the superhero judges with their entries for an art competition run in the Te Urewera Whirinaki Area as part of Whio Awareness Month. The competition, inspired by the Whio Forever project, a whiotastic partnership between DOC and Genesis Energy, showed such awesome awareness and creativity from the children in the three schools that the caped duo were keen to meet the artists themselves.
The urgency of the superheroes’ mission meant there was no time to waste. The children watched shocking footage of Sinister Stoat stealing eggs from whio nests the length of Aotearoa.
Ranger-reporter Jane from DOC seized the moment (and a microphone) and, with the children’s help, interviewed the caped heroes.
How to track whio – at Ohuka School
Captain Whio was describing whio’s webbed umbrella feet, juju lips (beautifully demonstrated by Duck Girl) and prominent yellow eyes, when suddenly the Stoat Proximity Alarm on his Utility Belt went off.
Captain Whio and Duck Girl immediately hot-footed it outside. The fledgling superheroes swiftly followed their mentors to see where Sinister Stoat was lurking.
Hot on Sinister Stoat’s trail at Ohuka School
Earlier, Captain Whio and Duck Girl had planted a couple of stoat traps in cunning places. The first trap was empty, but nearby was a perfectly formed stoat poo. Could it be from Sinister Stoat himself?
The children watched, aghast, as Duck Girl dipped her finger in the poo, sniffed it and stuck it in her mouth. After carefully savouring it, thanks to her specially modified taste-buds she identified the poo, and declared it as originating from…none other than…Sinister Stoat himself. (Gasp!)
Duck Girl taste tests
Stealthily, Captain Whio, Duck Girl and their duckling entourage advanced on the next trap. There was a stoat in it! Yes! Thwack! Could it be Sinister Stoat? Could Captain Whio finally rest from his travails?
Not just yet, Captain Whio.… After close inspection from Duck Girl, it was revealed that the lifeless body in the trap was one of Sinister Stoat’s henchmen and not the slippery egg-stealer himself. Sinister Stoat was still at large….
But, Sinister Stoat, if you are reading this, Captain Whio has a message for you:
“Be afraid, Stoaty, very afraid…. We superwhioheroes are not alone: we have the kids of Waikaremoana, Ohuka and Ruakituri, who are sworn whio fans, educated and dangerous … and they are out to protect whio from you!”
A whio safe from stoats.
Check out the Whio Forever website to find out more about whio and the partnership between DOC and Genesis Energy to secure the future of the whio/blue duck, one of our most endangered birds ever