What could be more important than our stunning, one-of-a-kind environment? It’s critical to our economic and social well-being, but more than that – getting out and experiencing our native birds and wildlife is a huge part of what makes being a Kiwi so special.
But we’ve got the highest rate of threatened species in the world. Literally billions of predators like stoats, possums and rats are roaming our country killing, the Department of Conservation estimates, 25 million birds alone each year. If we don’t do something to stop them now, our kids will never get to experience the environment we have now.
That’s why we’ve joined the Department of Conservation and Predator Free New Zealand Trust to do serious battle for the country we love. One of NZ’s most ambitious conservation projects – ever – has begun.
First step – more people on the front line.
We know that this challenge is bigger than each of us – but it’s not bigger than all of us.
Have you heard of the good people in the Wellington suburb of Crofton Downs? In 2014, Crofton Downs became the country’s first predator-free suburb. They did it with pure, beautiful community spirit – and thousands of hours of backyard trapping.
We’re going to help get more Kiwis fighting for our environment in their own backyards by taking the Crofton Downs model to every community in New Zealand. The Kiwibank Predator Free Communities programme will start by supporting 10 communities with subsidised traps, advice and expertise.
From there we keep expanding community by community. The ultimate goal? A trap in every fifth backyard. It’s something you can get involved with in your neighbourhood and we’ll keep updating you with tips and progress as we go.
Putting more dogs to work.
True to NZ’s wonderful history of working dogs, the Department of Conservation has created a world-leading Conservation Dogs programme. These highly-trained four-legged conservationists and their handlers do incredible work protecting species like the kākāpō, kiwi and takahē. Right now there are 80 part-time conservation dogs in New Zealand – 45 find protected species, 35 find pests.
Kiwibank is funding two full-time dogs to join the team. With their handlers, they’ll form New Zealand’s first specialist conservation dog unit – working on the front line in our forests, helping find protected species and tracking down the bad guys.
The Department of Conservation’s Director General Lou Sanson is very happy to have us on the team. “Working together with Kiwibank will help us to unleash the potential of these incredible dogs and means we will be to do more conservation and quarantine work on our pest-free islands.”
The vision is so simple. Kiwis working together in every corner, to create a thriving, extraordinary, predator-free country.
We’re delighted to be part of it.
The Conservation Dogs and their talented handlers are active all over New Zealand. You might be lucky enough to meet them at wharfs, ferry terminals, island and mainland sanctuaries, in the national parks or perhaps even at your local Kiwibank branch so keep an eye out when you're exploring our backyard!
Kiwibank Predator Free Communities are really active, working together to help New Zealand achieve its goal. Together PFNZ and Kiwibank have launched a Predator Free School initative too, enabling kids and teachers to get hands-on in learning about and saving our native species.
Want to find out more? Stay up to date with the programme by visiting the Dog Programme section on DOC's website, check out predatorfreenz.org or find out the latest on Kiwibank’s social media channels.