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Unfamiliarity with natural history concerns author

April 14, 2004

Unfamiliarity with New Zealand’s natural history concerns author of new book

The New Zealand public does not appreciate just how decimated this country’s fauna has become, according to the author a new book from Canterbury University Press.

Lincoln University ecologist Kerry-Jayne Wilson has written Flight of the Huia: Ecology and conservation of New Zealand’s frogs, reptiles, birds, in response to what she says is a widespread lack of understanding of New Zealand’s fauna and its vulnerabilities.

“New Zealand is one of the world’s special places with one of the world’s unique biotas, but I am constantly disappointed by how little most New Zealanders know about the natural history of their country. I hope this book will do something to address this,” she says
Since humans first settled here, 58 endemic species of birds have disappeared and another 43 are threatened or endangered.

But it has been 40 years since the last extinction, which Kerry-Jayne Wilson puts down to what she describes as the remarkable but under-valued work of conservation managers.

She claims there is no consistent philosophy towards conserving New Zealand’s heritage and believes conservation efforts are likely to remain ad hoc, reactive and at the discretion of political will.

“I’m convinced we could prevent the extinction of any more native birds, reptiles, amphibians or bats. We are clever enough to do it, but I am not sure we have the commitment to do it.”

Ms Wilson says conservation needs to be considered as important as health and education.

Flight of the Huia, which is Ms Wilson’s first book, brings together a wealth of information on ecology in New Zealand much of which, until now, has only been available in scientific journals.

The book is the first to present a history of faunal change in New Zealand and reviews the ecology and conservation of birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs , providing concise, yet comprehensive, information suitable for the general public, students and ecologists.

Flight of the Huia: Ecology and conservation of New Zealand’s frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals, by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, Canterbury University Press, 2004; paperback, 228x152mm, 411pp, colour photos and illustrations, RRP $49.95


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