Science Advisor Kath Walker has been studying Powelliphanta snails for nearly four decades and has recently submitted her PhD on this ancient lineage of snail – an awesome achievement to someone so dedicated to these quirky creatures, which are special to some of our most rugged and wild landscapes.Continue Reading...
Archives For Powelliphanta
Anthony Behrens shares his experience hunting down and photographing Powelliphanta marchanti snails in the Northern Ruahines.Continue Reading...
To get people talking about unique native species, we took a camera out around Wellington and asked people to say a few twisty names for us.Continue Reading...
DOC Central Plateau and Project Tongariro staff went bush recently for a snail-counting mission in the Waipakihi Valley.Continue Reading...
New Zealand does have its oddities, its strange beasts and weird plants. By this I don’t mean kiwi or tuatara, but lesser known creatures, the ones which have no hope of gracing a coin or a stamp.Continue Reading...
Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Mark Anderson, Partnerships Ranger based in the Western Bay of Plenty District.
Some things I do in my job include… I am one of the lucky people who are involved in Resource Management Act planning, statutory land management and concessions! At the moment I am involved in negotiating the surrender of an access arrangement (long story that one!), the management of mangroves in Tauranga harbour and setting up management agreements for various blocks of graze-able public conservation land, to name but a few.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… ensuring resources are used and managed sustainably and making sure those out there trying to make a fast buck to the detriment of the environment do not get away with it!
The best bit about my job is… the variety of the work that comes my way, one day I’m monitoring a sledging operation and enjoying the thrills of tumbling down white water and the next exercising the little grey cells as they assess the environmental impacts of a resource consent application.
The funniest/strangest/loveliest/scariest/awesome-est (choose one) DOC moment I’ve had so far is… in terms of white knuckle stuff it has to be monitoring a sledging operation on the Kaituna River, the operator has a concession as the walk into the jump in point is over a scenic reserve. As I was going undercover I could not reveal my true identity until the end which meant I had to sign up for the whole trip, for some reason no one else was keen to tackle the rapids so it fell to me to save the day! I also had a great time chasing the powelliphanta snails in the middle of Te Urewera National Park. These snails are serious carnivores so you have to watch out, watch a snail attack on YouTube.
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… having not been with the Department all that long this is a tough question as pretty much everyone I have worked with is passionate about what they do and can enthuse others to fight the good fight. If pushed though I would have to say Aniwaniwa Tawa, she gave me some great advice when it came to delivering educational classes to some of the schools around Te Urewera National Park. After watching her in action she certainly inspired the kids she was teaching and inspired me to try and deliver fun and informative lessons.
On a personal note…
The song that always cheers me up is… a great little number by the legendary Saw Doctors called “Uesta Love her Once“ as it has some great lyrics and is one of the more up beat songs about moving on in love and life!
My stomping ground is… being a keen cyclist I can usually be found climbing one of the many roads that rise from Tauranga Harbour. The views you get from the tops are always great and it is always a good excuse to stop and suck in some oxygen before heading back down.
My best ever holiday was… after my tour of Iraq in 2003 I went island hopping around the Greek Islands for a wee while. The copious amounts of sun, sea, sand, fresh fish and ouzo made for a great holiday and a perfect way to refresh the body and soul.
My greatest sporting moment was when… there have of course been many but top of the list was taking line honours in a 51km fell race called the Long Tour of Bradwell. A striking run through the heart of the lower peak district in the UK, plenty of stunning views to distract you from those aching legs!
Before working at DOC I… enjoyed avoiding the responsibility of getting a career! I spent a fair bit of time landscape gardening and can also add Wellington cycle courier to my achievements, (national office staff apologies if I may have nearly run you over at some point in 2009!) and I also had a stint as a pool lifeguard.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is… “I shall finish the game” Bit of a cheesy one liner form Young Guns II but I like it because I always strive to finish what I start and never like to quit.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… “It is not the will to win that is important but the will to prepare to win” This little nugget came from my athletics coach when I was younger. Basically it is no good having the dream if you are not prepared to put the hard yards into ensure that dream can be realised. I think it can be applied to any aspect of life, not necessarily just sport.
In work and life I am motivated by… keeping middle age spread at bay! This is why I volunteer to help out the services rangers as much as possible.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… get involved in local conservation projects, you will meet some great people and reap the rewards of seeing the fruits of your labour in your own area (not to mention enjoying the odd sausage sizzle or two!)
Question of the week…
What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten? Back packing around Laos I found myself in a bar and ravenously hungry, I could not see a menu anywhere but one guy was tucking into a plateful of what looked like dark noodles so I just pointed at that and rubbed my belly to indicate the same for me. When the plate arrived, it was an assortment of insects and bugs, all deep fried and very crispy and to be fair also rather tasty!
Our photo of the week is this beautiful Powelliphanta snail, a large, air-breathing, carnivorous land snail endemic to New Zealand.
Their shells come in an array of colours and patterns, ranging from hues of red and brown to yellow and black. Their favourite prey is earthworms, but they are also known to eat slugs. Powelliphanta snails are an integral part of New Zealand’s unique fauna, and were as important in evolutionary terms as kiwi, kākāpō or moa.
Predation and habitat loss are the major threats to this species, although their outlook is improving with DOC undertaking work to protect these snails on the West Coast through long-term monitoring, translocation and captive breeding.
This photo that was taken by DOC’s John Mason.