Tuesday 1st April, 2014
Some difficult strategic decisions will need to be made by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust this year as it reaches a turning point in penguin conservation.
The trust, which is in its 28th year, has traditionally focused its work on increasing penguin numbers by protecting them and their habitats on land.
However, it was becoming increasingly apparent that what happened to the penguins at sea needed to be better understood, trust general manager Sue Murray said.
''It's a big turning point in penguin conservation.''
This had been reinforced by mass mortality in 2013 and starvation problems this summer.
Combined, the two events had resulted in nest numbers halving at the trust's Otago Peninsula colonies - Okia Reserve dropped from 13 to 5 and Otapahi ffrom 19 to 5.
Added to that, the trust had posted a financial loss of $33,000 for the 18-month period from October 2012.
Like every non-profit organisation, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was struggling for funds, although it had strong support from many sectors thanks to having a charismatic bird people loved, she said.
''The challenge is we've expanded so much that we have a constant requirement for resources.''
The issue was highlighted by trust chairman Eric Shelton in his report to this week's annual meeting.
''This coming financial year will be challenging and will require making some difficult strategic decisions involving the allocation of resources,'' Mr Shelton said.
Mrs Murray said while the past nearly three decades' work meant those involved in penguin conservation had a good understanding of the penguins' biology, breeding and habitat, much was not known about the marine environment where they sourced their food.
Finding out why so few returned to Otago's shores after fledging was just one question which needed answering, she said.
Getting a better understanding of that environment required costly research and monitoring. How that fitted in with the trust's core work needed to be considered.
''They are so much more difficult to resource.''
This year, the trust would be considering how to advance ''in-house'' science to help guide its work in the future.
''Maybe we need to fund research.''
The trust had also commissioned Wildland Consulting to review its work on Stewart Island and help guide its future work there, given resource limitations.
• For the first time, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust has its full complement of 15 trustees. At this week's annual meeting, Murray Brass and David Smith were elected to the board for the first time, while Lala Frazer and Mike Morrison were re-elected.
They joined the trustees co-opted last year, Nigel Stirling, Jesse James and Luke Gardener, and existing members chairman Eric Shelton, Margaret Munell, Euan Kennedy, Linda Reynolds, Pat Mark, Peter Simkins, Hoani Langsbury and Tim Mepham.
Tuesday 25th February, 2014
The Trust was delighted to have help from 6 University of Otago Cumberland Hall students on Wednesday 19 February.
While some students arriving at Otago may have a range of recreational activities in mind , the 6 from Cumberland Hall were keen to assist Leith Thomson (Trust Ranger) and David McFarlane (Field Manager) with plant releasing at the Trust’ Okia Reserve.
Volunteering for community causes has become a regular feature of O Week and is facilitated by the recently established University Volunteer Centre.
For most of the group it was the first time they had been down the Otago Peninsula, and were surprised to find that they were the only people on the 3km long Victory Beach that borders the reserve.
Cumberland Hall volunteer, Leigh Edlinger who is also a volunteer lifeguard in her home town of Auckland, commented that there she was more used to several thousand people at Piha.
Year old native plantings established to provide future nesting habitat for yellow-eyed penguins were released from competing exotic lupin with loppers and pruning saws.
The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust hopes to develop the relationship with Cumberland Hall in the rest of 2014.
Wednesday 19th February, 2014
One of the most ''disastrous breeding seasons'' in recent years has hit endangered yellow-eyed penguin colonies along Otago's coast.
''This is the worst season I've ever seen and it's not over yet,'' Department of Conservation ranger Mel Young said.
It follows last season's ''mass mortality'' when a mystery illness, possibly caused by a marine toxin, killed 68 adults.
A shortage of food this year meant chicks were struggling to survive the first three months of life - fewer than 70 on Otago Peninsula, compared with more than 200 last season - and those that did were well underweight.
Read the full article at http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/292147/yellow-eyed-penguin-season-disastrous