Project Outline for the Kepler Peninsula
- Te Anau's backyard bird song conservation project
Effectively a peninsula between Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau, the 10,640 ha Kepler area is best known for its 60km circular track (the blue outline) that wends its way around the mountains, valleys, rivers and lake shores at this edge of Fiordland National Park.
The most accessible of the Great Walks, it has gained a certain notoriety for its annual Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt mountain runs. In 2006 in partnership with DOC, the Kepler Challenge Committee laid a 60km stoat trap line along the track as a protective corridor, thus beginning the Kepler bird song project.
The wildlife needing help?
A string of endangered species inhabit this area including kiwi, whio, kaka, kea, kakariki, robin, rock wren, mohua and weka. The odd takahe has wandered into the area. Short and long-tailed bats have been seen. Yellow mistletoe grows in amongst the forest. Local populations of more common birds such as tui, bellbirds, fantails and kereru add to this amazing ecosystem.
This makes the Kepler Mountains a very special site right here next to Te Anau township.
More protection is needed:
To ensure their long-term survival and to rebuild the populations to a healthy density, these species need more protection than the Kepler Challenge's outer trap circuit has alone been able to provide.
It has become obvious that with the interior sections of the Kepler Track largely ringed by the Luxmore Mountain Range and the Iris Burn, the rate of stoat and possum migration into the Kepler from surrounding areas would make predator control operations more effective than if amongst a continuous area of forest.
And who has come to the rescue?
In 2011 with much excitement, a partnership with Kids Restore New Zealand (subsidiary of Air New Zealand Environment Trust) and the Community Trust of Southland was set up.
1. Funding to set up the KRTK project
Funding of $150,000 came from Kids Restore New Zealand and another $70,000 from the Community Trust of Southland for the first two years.
2. Funding to continue the KRTK project
A further donation of $100,000 towards the project was announced by Kids Restore New Zealand, in September 2012. This means that with the use of DOC's expertise and Fiordland Conservation Trust's project management skills, the first stage of the trapping programme within the Kepler is well underway.
Trustee Ruud Kleinpaste announced the further donation during a recent visit to Te Anau schools. “Kids Restore New Zealand is so impressed with the work being undertaken by Kids Restore the Kepler, we wanted to ensure that the project continues with the same degree of enthusiasm,” Ruud said. "Kids Restore NZ is delighted with the huge input from local Te Anau kids. We are building conservationists of the future” he said.
Chairman of the Fiordland Conservation Trust, Murray Willans said "while the project has an environmental focus, the intent of this project is that there will be something that inspires all students to participate in a hands on way that they find motivating, while fulfilling curriculum requirements”.
For more information, go to www.kidsrestorethekepler.co.nz
The phases of the KRTK project
Known as the Kids Restore the Kepler project, this first stage is being undertaken within the interior of the Kepler Track circuit, over 3,000 ha of stoat control and 420 ha of rat control, with some cat and possum work also part of the plan. All parties involved are committed to ensuring that educational opportunities provided by the project are meaningful for the more than 450 kids of the Te Anau Basin and other kids visiting the area.
Education Coordinator appointed:
In April 2012, Caroline Carter was appointed Education Coordinator to fully integrate the project into the schools' curricula, a position made possible by additional funding from the project's major sponsor, KRNZ, with the other 50% of funding coming from local famers and conservationists, Ian and Jenny Willans.
The kids' website:
The kids restoring the Kepler have built their own website which is absolutely worth a visit, containing as it does all the up-to-date news on this project and other really cool stuff.
Read more... www.kidsrestorethekepler.co.nz
Local community groups help out:
Local community groups are keen to be involved as well so the Trust is trialling the best way of doing this. As part of the trial, three stoat trap lines are being funded and maintained by:
- Fiordland Lodge and Fiordland Helicopters
- 67 traps with rat and possum control also being considered
- Ruth and Lance Shaw's Bee Gees - 56 traps plus a one year possum control trial
- Fiordland House (Keri Antoniak & Ross Kerr)
- 28 stoat traps and 27 rat traps being voluntarily checked.
The Kepler Challenge committee's circuit:
And the Kepler Challenge Committee and volunteers continue their sterling work checking their own traps and helping out with the new ones as well. Read more...
To read more of the KRTK's news go to KRTK news archives.