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Combining forces to care for kea B Y J A C Q U I E WA LT E R S PHOTOGRAPHY BY B M KREIGENHOFER


you haven’t visited Natureland in a while you may have missed the remarkable transformation that is taking place there under the guidance of Natureland Director Meg Rutledge and her dedicated team of staff and trustees. Native plantings are flourishing and the zoo has taken the very deliberate stance of representing the region around it in terms of flora and fauna. There’s an area that’s been set aside to showcase some of the major regional crops and produce, for example. Importantly, Natureland is also shining a light on one of our region’s most iconic species – the kea. Kea are regarded by many as the most intelligent bird species in the world, says Meg. “They are able to use tools, adapt and learn and teach strategies to other birds, and they can work together to solve problems. They have also shown that they can move into new habitats in search of food – such as above the treeline. The kea’s ability to go from “sea to summit” makes them an iconic representation of the New Zealand landscape itself, says Meg. “Kea can also travel large distances. The Kea Conservation Trust has tracked kea that have travelled from the Richmond Ranges 50

to Kaiteriteri within a couple of days.” Meg says that kea face the same threat from predators as other native birds because kea nest on the ground in beech forests. “Without predator controls kea are susceptible to the same threats as other native species. “Many people don’t realise that there are kea in our region and that the Top of the South is an incredibly important habitat for them,” says Meg. Unfortunately the kea population in the Top of the South is declining much more rapidly than in other areas of the South Island, she says. “We have an opportunity to contribute to their conservation and to the genetic diversity of the captive kea population by having a kea group here at Natureland.”

“We wanted to create a space championing the role of the kea in our region and beyond ...” MEG RUTLEDG E, N AT U R E L A N D

Natureland has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Nelson Management Ltd (NML) – the management company for Nelson Forests – which is providing a significant contribution towards the cost of a large new kea enclosure. Other businesses, Gibbons Construction, in particular, have also contributed support. Nelson City Council, The Rātā Foundation, Pub Charity and the Mainland Foundation have also supported the project. “We wanted to create a space championing the role of the kea in our region and beyond, and we also wanted to give people a better opportunity to connect with them,” says Meg. “The larger enclosure will mean that Natureland can house a group of birds rather than just a pair, which better represents the fact that kea are very social animals.” In addition to assisting with the enclosure build, NML intends to work closely with Natureland to support education programmes at the zoo and off-site. “Kea are found in the areas where we harvest,” says NML’s Managing Director Lees Seymour. “We realise that we are in their territory, and not the other way

Wild Tomato March2017  
Wild Tomato March2017  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...