Mon, September 27, 2021

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Endangered long-tail bats found in New Zealand 1st time in decades


"DOC has long suspected that the lush lowland rainforests around Fox and Franz Josef glaciers might be home to pekapeka and have had a few anecdotal sightings over the years, so its fantastic to now have this confirmed."

Rare, long-tail bats pekapeka have been discovered near South Island's small town Franz Josef for the first time in decades in New Zealand, the country's Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said on Saturday.

The discovery is exciting proof that the government's Jobs for Nature and predator free programs are getting results, said the minister.

The bats were found following a survey by a local tourism business funded through the government's Jobs for Nature programme.

"Three Franz Josef Wilderness Tours workers collected sound recordings of the highly endangered bat from forested areas around Okarito Lagoon and in the Waitangitāhuna and Whataroa river valleys last summer," Allan said, adding that these were recently confirmed by Department of Conservation (DOC) bat experts.

"This is a really exciting find and is a tribute to Franz Josef Wilderness Tours, who, despite being hard hit by the downturn in tourism because of COVID, embraced new Jobs for Nature work opportunities," she said.

Photo shows pekapeka, endangered long-tail bat, in New Zealand.

"DOC's predator control work will have helped to protect the bats and the Predator Free South Westland project now underway, will help secure their future."

Franz Josef Wilderness Tours owner Dale Burrows said that Jobs for Nature has been a lifeline for his business and he and his staff have enjoyed feeling like they were giving back to nature.

"It's been a real buzz to discover the long-tailed bats right in our backyard and we're looking forward to being involved in further work to find out more about the population and protect them."

"We've learnt heaps about native species and conservation through this work, and this has brought value to our business as we share this knowledge with the mostly Kiwi visitors who now come on our tours," Burrows said.

Kiri Allan said DOC had coordinated the bat survey work and provided training to the workers, who then put out bat recorders in likely-looking spots and did the initial data analysis using a "bat search" programme.

"DOC has long suspected that the lush lowland rainforests around Fox and Franz Josef glaciers might be home to pekapeka and have had a few anecdotal sightings over the years, so it's fantastic to now have this confirmed."

"Further surveys are planned for next summer, when the bats are active, to learn how widely they're spread," she said.

Published : August 15, 2021

By : xinhua