“The Trust was established in 1999,” says Daryl Way, Chairman for the Trust. “Up until 2005, we were mostly doing night-shooting, with a small amount of trapping, to cull possums in the area. The forest was suffering because of them. Between 1999 and 2005, we killed around 20,000 possums, which gives an idea of how prolific they were.”
Over the past 11 years, the Trust has removed in excess of 32,000 stoats, ferrets, feral cats, rats and possums from the area and seen an estimated growth in kiwi of 30 – 40%. The Trust has a group of dedicated volunteers who help with all aspects of the Trust’s work but the majority of the trapping is taken care of by a professional trapper. Daryl explains why: “People often suggest we use volunteers, but it’s just not possible. There are very few people with the skills, level of fitness and commitment to walk 43km of traplines every month. The terrain around here is quite rough, we have bad weather to contend with in winter and we need to ensure that the traplines are maintained properly for the programme to be effective.”
The outstanding results and significant number of kiwi in the area make Waimate North Landcare Trust an important project for the success of kiwi conservation in Northland. That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s easy for them to find funding.
Prior to 2015, the Trust had been very successful with funding applications. But last year, they found themselves in a position where they were turned down by many of the funders that had supported them in the past. Not because they weren’t seen as being a successful group, but often because funders had been happy to support the start up costs of various projects but wouldn’t fund ongoing costs.
“Funders were saying ‘we’re just here to give you help as a start up but then you need to go and find funding from somewhere else’, which we haven’t been able to do. We do run local fundraising events and initiatives, but we only have a small local population so the amount we’re able to raise doesn’t cover the full cost of running the project,” explains Daryl. “So, we’re sort of living hand to mouth. We live under the constant threat of not being able to get more funding and seeing the work that we’ve been doing go backwards.”
Successful kiwi conservation needs consistent, long-term programmes. That’s why Kiwis for kiwi does fund ongoing work. When Waimate North Landcare Trust found themselves without funding and at risk of having to abandon their trapping programme for a year, they turned to Kiwis for kiwi for help.
“Without the funding from Kiwis for kiwi, we wouldn’t have been able to employ trappers for the 2015/2016 year. It’s as simple as that.” Said Daryl. “I’m not sure exactly how long it would take for the predator numbers to increase to original numbers if trapping was discontinued, but I don’t think it would take long. Maybe one or two years.”
Seeing the result of 11 years hard work being wiped out would be devastating. We’re pleased to have been able to fund the Trust’s trapping costs for the year to help ensure this doesn’t happen.