Thursday, 17 March 2016

Next Talk 22nd March - New Zealand - Ecological Mayhem!

 It seems to have been a popular destination for Islay folk this past winter, but not all the visitors to this ancient country returned home or left without making a significant impact on the islands inhabitants.  Pete Roberts gives us some insight into the impacts of introduced species on an isolated island population, the next talk at the Islay Natural History Trust (see advert in this issue).

New Zealand separated 70 million years ago from the other ancient landmasses of Gondwanaland. It had no land mammals and the fauna evolved in almost total predator-free isolation. A wonderful range of flightless birds evolved, including the famous kiwis and the giant ostrich-like moas. Then, very recently, humans arrived and inevitably began causing rapid mayhem! Our hunting, introduced animals and ensuing habitat losses have driven much of New Zealand’s unique birdlife to extinction. 58 species of birds – over a quarter of all the unique species originally found there have been lost in just 800 years. Now an estimated 10% of the world’s endangered birds are found here.

But New Zealand is indeed a beautiful country when viewed from other perspectives with quaint towns, productive green farmland, and stunningly dramatic landscapes.  Happily the tide of extinctions and losses is turning and New Zealand has perhaps the most pro-active and drastic government conservation policies of anywhere in the World. This has saved at least some of its very special wildlife from the brink and, in some ways, made it surprisingly easy for birdwatchers to see what remains.

Come along and discover the impacts that new species can have when they don't complement the native wildlife.

No comments:

Post a Comment