A new project has been developed to help conserve kea in the central South Alps.
The project – a collaboration between the NZ Tahr Foundation, Kea Conservation Trust, and Game Animal Council – is designed so that hunters in the tahr ballot can contribute to recording sightings and conserving kea.
“Kea are a fantastic part of the mountain hunting experience in the Southern Alps, and given how much time tahr hunters spend in the backcountry, they are ideally positioned to help monitor these special alpine parrots,” said NZ Tahr Foundation scientific advisor Kaylyn Pinney.
Each hunting party will receive a Tahr Ballot Kea Sightings Project pamphlet along with the NZ Tahr Foundation’s tahr returns and information booklet at the helipad before being flown in to their ballot block. Hunters are requested to record their kea sightings on the pamphlet and submit it along with their tahr returns in a dedicated box at the hanger following their flight out.
“This project will help provide valuable information to the kea database and ensure better management decisions are made for kea in the future,” said Tamsin Orr-Walker, chair of the Kea Conservation Trust.
“We know that kea are attracted to tahr carcasses and tahr hunters have a lot of interaction with the birds, so this project is a really great way for them to help contribute information on kea ecology and behaviour.”
Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale added that tahr hunters are passionate about kea, with many supporting the species’ conservation.
“This project is a great example of how hunters, who spend long periods in the mountains, can contribute to achieve good outcomes for native species,” said Gale.
The kea sightings pamphlet asks for detailed recordings, including sex, age, behaviour, and if any leg bands are identifiable. Hunting parties are also provided information to help identify different kea.
“A big thank you goes to the helicopter operators who have come on-board to help facilitate the distribution and returns of both the kea sightings pamphlet and tahr returns booklet,” said Pinney. “It is this on-the-ground support that is so important to ensure the success of a project such as this.”
While the Tahr Ballot Kea Sightings Project is specific to tahr ballot holders, other hunters and members of the public are encouraged to report kea sightings at keadatabase.nz.