Solid Energy and DOC jointly fund this work
A conservation project to protect New Zealand's endangered blue duck, the whio, is happening in two adjacent river catchments - the Styx and the Arahura in the Hokitika Area. The work is jointly funded by DOC and Solid Energy (NZ) Ltd and is supported by local iwi and Maori landowners.
The Styx-Arahura site is one of eight national 'security sites' and management at this site consists of stoat trapping and captive rearing.
Whio Operation Nest Egg
Whio Operation Nest Egg is a project used to transfer wild laid eggs for captive rearing to Peacock Springs in Christchurch which is funded by the Issac Wildlife Trust. Whio ducklings are reared in captivity and released back into the wild at about 3 months of age.
Six eggs were lifted from the Styx Valley at the beginning of October 2009 and after a blessing from a local kaumatua they were flown to Peacock Springs.
One egg was found to be dead but five ducklings later hatched, were banded for identification and then placed in an aviary where they can learn rivercraft and food hunting skills. The aviary has an especially built whitewater hazard course.
Recently hatched whio ducklings at
Trapping for mustelids (stoats and weasels), and rats began in 2004. Stoat traps are placed at 100 metre intervals alongside tracks on both sides of the two valleys with recreational tramping tracks being used where available. In 2008-2009 122 mustelids were caught.
Only two or three pairs of whio were observed in the Styx Valley in 2004, but this number had risen to 7 to 8 pairs by 2008-09. This increase is attributed primarily to the predator trapping regime.
This project was originally started with funding from the Knuckey estate and the Westland Nature Trust but more recently Solid Energy NZ Ltd has become the major sponsor. This has enabled the area covered by stoat traps to be extended.
You can help
If you are visiting the Styx or Arahura Valleys on a tramping or hunting trip you might like to keep an eye out for whio. Do everything possible to avoid disturbing them but let us know where and when you see them. Take a note of how many you see, where they are and the time of day.
You can use the online report form or phone the Hokitika Area Office to report the sightings. You can also phone the Hokitika Area Office for more information on Styx blue duck.