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A Conservation-conscious Christmas: Give A Gift That Could Help Save NZ’s Most Endangered Bird

It’s the iconic bird on our $10 note – and by donating just three bills to a hunter-led conversation group you can play your part in helping protect this rare New Zealand species.

Formed by ecologist and project coordinator Sam Gibson, Eastern Whio Link is a volunteer group of hunters and fishermen from across the Bay of Plenty who are committed to protecting the whio / blue duck based in the Waioeka Gorge and wider Eastern Bay of Plenty area.

This highly endangered endemic species is susceptible to attacks from stoats at key times in their life cycle: During nesting (August to November) and moulting (February to March).

To help combat this and increase the whio’s chances for survival, Eastern Whio Link is offering ‘stocking filler’ sponsorship opportunities in time for Christmas.

A $30 donation sponsors one Good Nature self-resetting trap for a year. They also offer a higher sponsorship tier of $300, which covers a 1km line of traps – enough to protect a whio’s home range (the area where it lives, feeds, breeds and plays).

Sam says this is the first time they have run this initiative, but see it as an opportunity to raise much-needed funds and awareness of the group’s conservation efforts.

“We’re very fortunate to have a great volunteer support and sponsors to help us do what we do, and in our first year we’re achieved some great results for the whio population where we have been trapping – all the pairs in the project have chicks. We have a big vision to grow the area and we need more resources to do this.”

While Sam initiated the project in early 2019, the community has quickly grown through a shared passion for protecting this taonga (treasured) species.

“Ever since I was a kid I noticed the whio numbers had been declining to the point where we weren’t seeing them on the river anymore,” he says.

“A bunch of us thought if we don’t do something, we won’t have any left, so we initiated the conversation by putting notes in back country hut books and from that got a bit of a crew together.”

The ‘crew’ is currently more than 60 volunteers who have helped set 300 traps around Waioeka Gorge. But while they have had strong success in their first year, Sam and the team have a long-term vision grow the project, and to connect whio populations from Te Urewera, up the East Coast to Te Araroa.

“We can only do what we can do with the resources and volunteer power available, so we’re taking it step by step. I’m stoked with how we’ve started, but it’s just the start.”

To donate to the Eastern Whio Link and sponsor a trap, please pay your donation into the Eastern Whio Link bank account [38-9019-0892185-02], using your name as a reference. Please also send a follow-up email to Sam on to confirm the name for the certificate.

Each donation will receive an electronic Certificate of Sponsorship that can be made out to the person you are gifting it to.

© Scoop Media

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