A wide range of native coastal birds who call the Waimea Inlet home are fighting their own land rights battle. One of these native birds, the moho pererū (Banded Rail) is the figurehead for a conservation project that has been supporting the wellbeing of these birds in the Waimea Inlet since 2015.
Tracey Murray, Field Officer for the trapping arm of the Battle for the Banded Rail Project said that the group has done very important work in the five years that they have been operating.
“We’ve trapped 5000 predators since the project began”.
The main predators that the project aims to target are rats, but the natives are also up against other pests like hedgehogs, stoats and weasels.
The Battle for the Banded Rail project is ensuring that the birds, but also the lizards and insect populations, which had been adopting a declining trend, are no longer moving into an endangered category.
Volunteers from the community who work on the project are a diverse mix of people who share their valuable skills and knowledge to keep up the projects progress.
Ross Quinton is one of fifty-two of the volunteers working specifically on the trapping side of the project.
“I maintain 19 traps and check them around every three weeks”, said Ross.
Each volunteer removes predators and keep the traps replenished with peanut butter, kindly donated by Pic’s, an egg and rabbit erayz.
The volunteers also document their data online so the project can keep on top of numbers. Altogether, there are currently 910 traps that run from the Richmond Deviation part of the inlet through to Mapua, following along the coastline.
Most of the traps over the last two years have been built by Menzshed, a charity organisation based in Richmond. Other traps have been donated by students from Waimea College, who build and place traps as part of an extracurricular activity.
The traps used throughout the inlet meet the humane criteria as regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, 1999.
The project conducts a survey every two years to check on numbers.
The only way to do this is by counting the number of footprints they can find within the estuary and mudflats. Birds can move around so an increase in the number of footprints over the whole area of the inlet is an indicator of progress and a positive sign.
The project is managed by the Tasman Environmental Trust, which also has another arm which takes care of the habitat restoration side.
This involves volunteers planting shrubs and trees across the Waimea Inlet to provide better habitats for the birds to feed and build their nests in.
This project recently got a much needed funding boost, and plans to plant 100,000 trees across the Waimea Inlet in the next three years. Plantings are being carried out every Sunday from now until August for anybody that wants to get involved.