Blake DOC Ambassador

The Blake DOC Conservation Ambassador award provides an opportunity for young scientists and conservationists to work on a conservation project in New Zealand, annually. The Blake Ambassador partnership with DOC started in January 2015. DOC partners with other organisations to manage New Zealand’s conservation through habitat protection and restoration programmes, biodiversity inventory and monitoring research projects. This year there will be three Blake DOC Ambassador Programmes: The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, Fiordland Kiwi Programme, Whenua Hou / Anchor Island Kākāpo Programme.

Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project

The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP) is one of the original six mainland islands set up in the mid 1990s to test pest control methods and establish best practice for DOC operations. Taking place in Nelson Lakes National Park, RNRP is a long term ecosystem restoration project. It is based in 5000 hectares of alpine beech forest alongside Lake Rotoiti. The project has a strong focus on ecological science, and in sharing lessons learnt. This opportunity allows a direct insight into current best-practice species work. It offers a unique experience working with innovative landscape-scale pest control techniques.

The RNRP is nearing it's 20 year anniversary and still retains a strong focus on research and development.

The work is varied and could include:

  • Predator trapping (for stoats, cats and possums)
  • Monitoring of trapping effort (tracking tunnels)
  • Native species monitoring (kea, robins, whio, snails)
  • Helping in one of the largest wasp control operations in the world
  • Kiwi health checks
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Data entry

Most work is undertaken during regular working hours although overnight trips outside the RNRP are possible. The work involves working with rangers and alone, handling dead animals and putting toxins into bait stations.

Time frame: February 2019

Fiordland Restoration Programme - Dusky Sound*

The aim of the Resolution Island Restoration Programme is to restore the native flora and fauna on the island creating an ecosystem that can act as a restoration site for vulnerable endangered native species. To date stoat trapping has control stoats to very low levels and many threatened species have been introduced back to islands in the area

The Ambassador will be required to work alone and walk stoat traplines on steep and mountainous terrain and check, clear and rebait stoat traps. Some stoat traps will be serviced from a small dinghy. At times the Ambassador may be required to undertake some fauna monitoring.

Time frame: 6 - 13 November 2018

*Select Fiordland Kiwi Programme in the application form.

Fiordland Kiwi Programme - Save Our Iconic Kiwi

Save Our Iconic Kiwi is a funding initiative to turn the widespread decline of kiwi populations into growth.  In Fiordland, most kiwi are currently unprotected in remote areas.  Our most efficient tool to control the predators that threaten kiwi in these areas is aerially applied 1080, but we need evidence that this tool alone will work for Fiordland birds in the Fiordland environment, and how best to use it.  For this reason, we are monitoring a sample population of kiwi before and after 1080 application at Shy Lake, near Breaksea Sound in western Fiordland.  The findings of this research will inform future predator control.

The focus of the Ambassadorship will be catching untransmittered kiwi at night.  This involves playing kiwi calls and waiting (sometimes for hours) for kiwi to investigate.  They are then fitted with radio transmitters and released.  The work is in a small team for most of the night and catch up on sleep during daylight hours.

There may also be some day work checking up on kiwi, as well as infrastructure work such as track cutting or marking.

Time frame: Early March 2019

Whenua Hou / Anchor Island Kākāpo Programme

The Kākāpo Recovery team works to protect the critically endangered Kākāpo. There are only 149 Kākāpo remaining which are all located on predator free islands. The two main breeding islands are Whenua Hou / Codfish Island off the coast of Rakiura / Stewart Island and Pukenui / Anchor Island in Dusky Sound. DOC's vision is to restore the mauri (life force) of Kākāpo by having at least 150 adult females.

This Ambassadorship will be focused on assisting with DOC's Supplementary Feed out programme prior to the Kākāpo breeding season.

Staff and volunteers walk the islands most days, topping up feeding stations and monitoring how much each bird has eaten.  Backpacks can weigh up to 20 kg at the start of each day, and the long routes often require travel over steep terrain in demanding conditions.

There may also be other work depending on the timing of the breeding season. The work is varied and could include:

  • Working with rangers and volunteers to deliver supplementary feed out programme
  • Having a regular feed out ‘run’ to clean and top up Kākāpo feed stations and upload data from data loggers
  • Data entry
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Checking traps as part of our biosecurity programme. Assisting with the set up of nest camps (season dependant)  

Time frame: 9 - 23 January 2019

Applications are Closed

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