A final thank you for Arthur's Pass kea conservation30 March 2018
We have achieved most of our major goals for kea conservation at Arthur's Pass! This has been possible thanks to you wonderful folks who donated to our kea conservation/ citizen science project on givealittle over the past year and a half.
Over the past year we have built a very large shelter packed with information all about kea (aka the "Kea Kiosk") in the heart of Arthur's Pass village, kea country. This is visited by sometimes hundreds of people per day!
We have also achieved some great advocacy and educational work too. Thousands of people have already been involved in looking for kea, recording sightings onto the online database, helping educate others why we should never feed kea, understanding the extent of the lead poisoning issues in the area and making good progress towards removing some of the sources of this lead from the environment, and much more.
We've banded more than 50 kea over the past year, received 1300 sightings within the first 7 months of launching the online kea sightings database, received hundreds of photos of banded kea and there's been great interest and uptake from people in sponsoring kea (and naming them), further contributing funding towards this project.
We have learned so much already through creating this citizen science initiative. By encouraging so many people to record their kea sightings, particularly of banded birds, we have been able to document just how many "new" kea are showing up in the main Arthur's Pass area, which ones stay around and which disperse elsewhere, receive sightings of older kea (some of which were banded more than ten years ago), determine how old some wild kea are, track individuals who are sick or injured, take them to the vet for treatment and upon release the more people looking, the more likely it is that these kea are spotted again. For example, two of the five kea taken to the amazing team at the South Island Wildlife Hospital in Christchurch last year for treatment of lead poisoning were recently spotted, clarifying that they're still alive and okay. Having a portion of this population with unique leg bands on is very useful for learning about kea ecology and behaviour, especially where there are so many people out there looking and recording. We have managed to distribute brochures and sightings forms to dozens of back country huts and sightings are coming in from all over the South Island.
The logical next step for us is to have some kea banded in other key areas where kea and humans interact (e.g. Milford road, Fiordland). People form a real connection with the animals when they read up about individual kea with profiles on the sightings database website and love seeing how many times a bird that they enjoy following is recorded on the map.
We've done numerous talks to schools, tramping clubs and other clubs and organisations and encouraged so many people to get out there and have a go looking for, and recording kea. We've received excellent feedback and listen to the suggestions people send us with ideas to make this project even better.
We truly appreciate and value your support and hope that you will get out there looking for kea (and all other nature too!)
Nga mihi nui,
The Arthur's Pass Kea Sightings team