23 May 2017

Researchers say mainland yellow-eyed penguins face extinction unless urgent action taken

NEW ZEALAND – In a newly published study in the international journal PeerJ, scientists have modelled factors driving mainland yellow-eyed penguin population decline and are calling for action to reduce regional threats.

Photo credit: Dr Thomas Mattern
According to the researchers' prediction models, breeding success of the penguins will continue to decline to extinction by 2060 largely due to rising ocean temperatures. But these predictions also point to where our conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins' resilience against climate change.

The yellow-eyed penguin, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a key attraction for New Zealand tourism. Yet, the chances of seeing the penguins in the wild are quietly slipping away, the new research suggests.

Lead study author Dr Thomas Mattern of the University of Otago said his team's predictions are conservative estimates and do not include additional adult die-off events such as the one seen in 2013 in which more than 60 penguins died.

22 May 2017

Gari the penguin crosses the ditch

NEW ZEALAND – On 16 May 2017 an endangered Fiordland crested penguin named Gari headed to her new home at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, after years of care and treatment at The Nest Te Kōhanga, Wellington Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital.

Gari as a juvenile penguin at The Nest Te Kōhanga
in March 2015. Credit: Wellington Zoo
Gari was just a juvenile bird when she was originally found in Hokitika with extensive wounds to her lower abdomen and to her left foot. Gari received care and initial treatment by the veterinarian team at West Coast Vets Hokitika, and then the West Coast Penguin Trust arranged for her to fly to Wellington to receive further treatment at The Nest Te Kōhanga in December 2014.

“When Gari first arrived at The Nest Te Kōhanga, we performed a general health check and multiple surgeries to repair her various wounds,” said Senior Veterinarian Baukje Lenting.

“We don’t know how Gari sustained her injuries but due to the severity of the wound around her lower abdomen, her vent has changed shape and location since healing. This means she would likely struggle to produce and lay fertile eggs in the wild.”

New Zealand penguins in crisis

NEW ZEALAND – The world’s threatened penguin species live in New Zealand and yet there is no co-ordinated government plan to protect them, New Zealand conservation organisation Forest & Bird has said.

Forest & Bird is joining a global Protect a Penguin campaign to help save penguins and is calling for a national recovery plan to protect New Zealand’s struggling penguin species.

The world’s penguins are in crisis with 10 of out of 18 species at risk of being wiped out. Five of these threatened species live and breed on New Zealand’s mainland and sub-Antarctic islands.

"We are urging the New Zealand government to establish a national Penguin Recovery Group, administered by the Department of Conservation. This group, similar to the very successful Kiwi Recovery Group, would facilitate a more coordinated and collaborative approach to the conservation of all our penguins," said Forest & Bird's CE Kevin Hague.