Saddleback on the South Island for the first time in 140 years

South Island Saddleback
For the first time in 140 years tieke (South Island Saddleback) are on the South Island mainland. A partnership between the University of Otago's Zoology Department and Orokonui Ecosanctuary, with the support of Peregrine wines and iwi, has just brought a founding population of 40 tieke to the Ecosanctuary.
Photo by Dave Curtis

South Island Saddleback (tieke)For the first time in 140 years tieke (South Island Saddleback) are on the South Island mainland. A partnership between the University of Otago's Zoology Department and Orokonui Ecosanctuary, with the support of Peregrine wines and iwi, has just brought a founding population of 40 tieke to the Ecosanctuary.
 
The South Island tieke is classified as 'nationally endangered' according to the DOC's Threat Classification System. Before transferring to Orokonui Ecosanctuary they were extinct on the mainland, populations of tieke existing only on 16 small and mostly remote islands, including Ulva Island from where these birds are being transferred.
 
This new population at Orokonui will act as an insurance policy against threats such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters, natural declines and the invasion of introduced predators. The Ecosanctuary through its guided tours and education programme also provides public education and advocacy about tieke and related conservation issues. Chris Baillie, general manager, says "When people meet our precious birds and lizards in the wild they often become highly motivated to do their bit to protect them".
 
Predator-proof fenced areas on the mainland, such as Orokonui Ecosanctuary, are a relatively new conservation tool. Orokonui Ecosanctuary (307 ha) is situated 20 km north of Dunedin between Port Chalmers and Waitati. The construction of a 9 km specialist fence was followed by a multi-species eradication programme in July 2007. Six captive-bred kaka were released in November 2008 and 36 Jewelled Geckos were brought into the Ecosanctuary in January 2009. Other species that the Ecosanctuary hopes to re-introduce into the Ecosanctuary include tuatara, parakeets, robin, mohua and kiwi.

Photo Contributor:
Dave Curtis