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Rare ducks released into Milford Track

23 February 2013

Rare ducks released into Milford Track

Kevin Evans Releases A Pateke Into The Arthur Valley

Seventy-four endangered pateke (brown teal) were released into the Arthur Valley on the Milford Track on Thursday, 21 February as a result of a new Great Walk conservation initiative between the Department of Conservation and Air New Zealand.

The pateke release is part of the wider Air New Zealand Great Walks Biodiversity Project – a $1 million dollar conservation initiative that aims to restore bird life and habitats along DOC’s Great Walks, including the Milford Track.

As well as funding the pateke release, the Air New Zealand Great Walks Biodiversity Project is supporting increased predator control along the Milford Track.

The density of stoat traps along the track has been doubled over the past few months and possum and rat control is being established in part of the Clinton Valley.

The more intensive predator control will protect vulnerable species, such as kiwi, that still exist in the area, and allow other threatened species, such as pateke and takahe to be returned to the area.

DOC Te Anau’s area manager Reg Kemper says the partnership will mean that New Zealand and international visitors will be able to walk among some of the world’s rarest birds on one of the world’s best tracks.

‘The pateke are the first vulnerable species to be returned as part of this partnership. Next year, we’re hoping to release takahe to the Milford Track – this will be the first time in living memory takahe have been back in the Clinton Valley.”

“To be able to encounter one of the world’s rarest birds in its natural environment will only underline the international reputation of the Milford Track.”

Air New Zealand’s Head of Sponsorship and Community James Gibson says investing in this conservation project is a natural fit for Air New Zealand.

“Supporting these biodiversity projects encourages richer bird life on New Zealand’s signature walking tracks and improves the overall experience for domestic and international tourists alike.”

The pateke released on the Milford Track last week are part of a six-year project to re-establish a pateke population in the South Island. Pateke were present in the Arthur Valley until the 1990s, but were lost from the area due to predation by introduced predators, particularly stoats. The first release of pateke into the Arthur Valley occurred in 2009.

Pateke are the rarest waterfowl on the New Zealand mainland. Re-establishing a pateke population on the Milford track is an important step to secure the species nationally.


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