Nature in Focus: New Zealand’s native species
We’re looking at New Zealand’s native species this week as we continue our tour across the Southern Hemisphere.
So it made me think when researching deeper into New Zealand’s native species, we all know that one person who has been to New Zealand and yes, we all get that jealous feeling of wanting to explore the country. A country that not only has 3,000+ mountain ranges, enormous lakes and wonderful coastline but also a rich culture and fascinating history.
In true Eco Companion style I’m not going to talk about that! Instead I’m focusing strongly on the native animal species that this wonderful country still has. With a wide range of environment’s for this wildlife to grow, adapt and spread into their thankfully is many species that are still New Zealand born and bred.
The Kiwi (not the fruit, as awesome as they are!) is New Zealand’s national symbol, nickname and proud small nocturnal bird. What makes this bird even more unique is the fact it doesn’t fly, joining the legendary hall of fame along with Penguins and Ostriches. Highly territorial and cute in appearance, the Kiwi is unfortunately endangered with many local zoo’s, animal rescue centres and generic centres rescuing and homing these fascinating birds in a bid to preserve the species. As you can see below, the Kiwi’s very unqiue appearance is supported by its small frame, thick fur and a long, slender nose. These birds are prone to attacks from other animals and without flight the Kiwi’s chances of escape are minimal. The Kiwi does have an ace in the hole however, with the weight of the nation behind it there are many local community actions groups looking out for the Kiwi’s well being, all pushing to sustain its numbers.
New Zealand is also the proud home to a variety of unique birds. From the Kea, which is known to be rather viscous in its attacks despite its simplistic cute appearance, to the flightless Weka. The Weka can be a bit hit and miss with humans, some favouring their friendly confident nature with others complaining of their vegetable patch taking a hit or two! For a greater insight into the bird life of New Zealand, feel free to check out the link here, which is a full encyclopaedia with all the facts and figures!
New Zealand’s is an island nation surrounded by miles of ocean. It’s a dream destination for sea life of all shapes and sizes. The Hector Dolphin is one of the world’s smallest and rarest bread of Dolphin and is another of New Zealand’s native species that can only be found in the remote Kiwi waters. With a short stocky body, they are very similar to how most people imagine a Dolphin. Hector Dolphins resemble killer whales in their markings, albeit quite a bit smaller, which gives them rather a unique and fascinating appearance.
Sadly, there are only believed to be 55 still living of the coast of New Zealand, with numbers depleting year on year. They inhabit the shallow coastal waters of the North Island’s western coast. Whilst their numbers a very low you may catch a glimpse if you visit this part of the North Island as well as seeing some of New Zealand’s unspoilt beaches and nature. Hurray though, despite conservation efforts number are still in heavy decline.
Lastly, in my trio of New Zealand’s native species, is the Tuatara. Described as a ‘relic’ of the past, it’s the only beak-headed reptile left in the world. Tuatara have a potential lifespan of 100+ years, heavily protected on the offshore islands they call home the Tuatara is one of the most fascinating creatures to have evolved in New Zealand’s remote and diverse ecosystem.
Finally another friendly reminder that human actions do have consequences for New Zealand’s native species. The New Zealand government is vociferous in its efforts to protect the local wildlife, flora and fauna but they can always use an extra pair of hands, and that’s where you come in! If the opportunity arises there’s nothing more rewarding than a wildlife conservation volunteering holiday, who knows you ma be tasked with protecting the last of the Hector Dolphins, it would be a shame if the next generation never got to see them.