The recently crowned Bird of the Year, the hoiho/yellow eyed penguin, is getting a much needed helping hand alongside more than 168 other community conservation projects announced Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage today.
168 community conservation projects throughout New Zealand are benefiting from $8 million in government grants, including $500,000 to three Otago projects supporting the nationally endangered hoiho /yellow eyed penguin.
“The Department of Conservation’s Community Fund is designed to support practical on-the-ground projects that back nature, help restore the dawn chorus, encourage people to get involved in conservation and connect with nature,” said Eugenie Sage.
“I would like to congratulate hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin on a well-deserved win in Bird of the Year 2019. I am pleased at the happy co-incidence of there being grants for two community and one iwi project to help hoiho.
“Hoiho live on both land and sea so they are vulnerable to a range of threats resulting in poor breeding and survival rates. This iconic species is in decline have suffered a series of poor breeding seasons and needs all the support it can get to boost hoiho numbers.
“DOC’s Community Fund enables so much more conservation work to be done by helping community organisations reach their goals of protecting native plants and wildlife and enables more New Zealanders to be active in country’s unique conservation challenges.
“The range of projects funded this year is testament to the wider ranging work being done by groups all over New Zealand. Some of the 168 projects funded include research on our rarest plants and wildlife, mapping the birds of Aotearoa, and developing community conservation hubs. DOC staff will work closely with these projects over the coming years to support them,” said Eugenie Sage.
Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust (YEPT) will receive $312,180 to increase the conservation effort for the hoiho. This funding will enable the YEPT to employ additional field staff and establish an urgent conservation management programme supported by technical expertise.
The Dunedin Wildlife Hospital Trust will gain funding of $165,000 to provide hospital care for hoiho, including emergency treatment for predator-inflicted injuries, trauma, diphtheria, malaria, and starvation, and hand-rearing chicks at risk of disease or starvation. The majority of the hoiho treated at the Wildlife Hospital will be successfully returned to the wild. This will assist with stabilising the adult population, reducing mortality and increasing lifespan, and providing opportunity for future breeding activities.
Also protecting the hoiho is Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, which will continue to engage a Kaitiaki o Kātiki (Kātiki Ranger) to carry out management at Kātiki Point, the largest hoiho colony and breeding grounds for hoiho, and other taonga species. $55,000 has been given in funding to support the mahi of Te Rūnanga across the peninsula.
The next DOC Community Fund round will open in February 2020.