New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

In addition to creating a predator-free environment, the Trust was committed to the reintroduction of native birds, plants and the famous “living fossil” from the Age of Dinosaurs, the tuatara. Several bird species missing from the Wellington environs for many years have been successfully returned to this habitat: the stitchbird, the saddleback, the bellbird, and the tui, among others. Native trees and shrubs have been planted while young stands of native hardwoods are encouraged through eradication of competing non-native species. One of the signs of the early achievements of this valuable Sanctuary is the success of many of the returned bird species. Not only are these birds easily seen and counted within the reserve, many have begun flying into the Wellington neighborhoods to visit bird feeders and back lawns, delighting the city dwellers who have so strongly supported this effort. Research has confirmed that the numbers of these birds are rising as they are no longer predated by creatures for which evolution provided no defense. The living fossil, the iguana-like reptile, the tuatara, has also been reintroduced to Sanctuary Valley and is also thriving here. The creature has been present on New Zealand since the Age of the Dinosaurs but human destruction of its habitat, hunting, predation by mammals with loss of eggs and young had long ago put the creature on the endangered animal list. Its success here is somewhat qualified if the definition of true return to a former lifestyle means a freedom of movement such as the birds enjoy, for the tuatara lives in the protected area and is not allowed to leave the confines of the fence. However, as the numbers of surviving tuataras increases, the reptile is being relocated to other predator free islands and sanctuaries. We enjoyed this look at what conservation can achieve and were pleased to see so many of the endangered birds and the wonderful tuatara. New Zealand’s birds are often colorful and always interesting in their behaviors. Their songs are frequently melodious and strange. We also were astounded at our first look at the tree weta, an enormous flightless New Zealand insect that can measure up to 4 inches and weigh almost an ounce. They look rather

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