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Thursday May 26, 2016

Protecting little penguins habitat By Nikki Papatsoumas

A small “penguineering team” kayaks out to Tapu te Ranga Island once a fortnight to help one of Wellington coast’s feathered friends. The team is part of Forest and Bird Wellington branch ‘Places for Penguins Project’ which was initially launched in 2007. Karin Wiley, nest box coordinator for the project, said the aim of the project was to increase the habitat of the little penguin, which was slowly diminishing around the capital’s coastline, including Miramar Peninsula and Island Bay. This was because of erosion and human development, Karin said. Karin said little penguins came to the shore to nest in the winter and many were unfortunately being struck by cars as they crossed the road at night.

“The idea was that if we put nest boxes in on the seaward side of the road it would hopefully stop so many getting killed and would provide more habitat for them,” she said. There are currently eight nest boxes nestled on Tapu te Ranga Island, 800 metres off the shore of Island Bay Beach. Karin said four more nest boxes would be placed on the island, as soon as the weather permitted. “It is working very well because it’s the one place around the coastline where there is the least interference from humans,” Karin said. Extensive rat trapping has also taken place on the island as rats can easily make the swim out to the island and were a dangerous predator to the little penguin. Karin said the penguin’s nest boxes were monitored every fortnight from July until the chicks begin to fledge. Outside

inbrief news New activities for tots at Capital E Capital E Central is premiering new free activities for toddlers during the term. Children aged three to five will now have the opportunity to enjoy everything from dance and craft workshops to special shows. ‘Wild child’ dance workshops, presented by Java Dance, will return to Capital E on Tuesdays, and a different craft will be taught each Wednesday.  Aswell as this, PlayShop Performance will be performing fairy tales for the tots.  All activities are free at Capital E Central, 4 Queens Wharf. For more information, and to reserve your spot, visit capitale.org.nz.

Mayor of Wellington Celia WadeBrown makes the 800 metre journey to Tapu te Ranga Island regularly, to monitor little penguin nests and lay rat bait.

of this they were monitored once a month. “We ask people to respect the island, they are allowed out there, but we ask they don’t remove vegetation or destroy any habitats.” As well as a growing population of little penguins, there were also geckos and skinks on the island, Karin said. “Restoration work will take place over several years to revegetate the island and remove pest plants.” Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown, is part of the “penguineering team” and heads out to the island regularly to help monitor nests and lay rat bait. “It is such a lovely little offshore island for penguins, geckos and skinks. It’s a real jewel - it’s nice to live in a capital city that has penguins about,” Ms Wade-Brown said.

ABOUT THE LITTLE PENGUIN:

• The little penguin, or Korora, is the world’s smallest penguin, standing at just over 25cm and weighing around one kilogram. • They can reach speeds of up to 6km/h underwater, using their paddle-like flippers to fly through the water. • They love the darkness, only coming ashore at night and living underground in burrows, natural holes, or under human structures or buildings. • Found on most of New Zealand’s coastline and southern Australia, the population and range of the little penguin has been declining in areas not protected from predators. • They hunt small fish, crustaceans and squid, and forage for food up to 25km offshore and 70km from the colony.  

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