The project's key aim is to reduce the impact of pest species on our native wildlife and plants - right here in the 17ha that make up our Zoo grounds, and in neighbouring properties.
Looking at what is around us, identifying what is good, and what is not good is the first step. The next step is to make a plan to discourage pests, and to encourage the animal and plant species we want.
New Zealand plants and
animals developed alongside each other in the absence of mammals.
As a result, they are unique and many are found nowhere else on
Among the threats to our native species are many introduced species. Animals like possums, rats and hedgehogs eat native eggs, chicks and birds, lizards, snails, seeds and plants. Some introduced plants, like honeysuckle and ladder fern, grow so well in New Zealand that they compete with our native plants.
Here at the Zoo, we are well on the way to reducing pests, with extensive trapping greatly reducing the number of rats, mice and hedgehogs, and are active in removing pest plants.
A lot of work is done by Zoo volunteers. These great people help our pest control coordinator monitor for pest species, both here at the Zoo and in neighbouring properties - trapping pest animals, removing wasp nests, and weeding out pest plants. We also work with other organisations like the Department of Conservation on projects like the restoration and weed control of Rangitoto Island and the Ark in the Park project in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges.
Everyone can be part of the Urban Ark project, and become an Urban Ark ranger. Start by having a look in your home garden. What do you see? Do you know what plants are growing there? Is your garden host to lizards, stick insects, birds, and weta? Do rats, mice, and hedgehogs visit your garden?
- You can make a monitoring tunnel out of old milk bottles, some
white paper, black vinyl, and a few other recycled materials from
around the home - animal footprints will tell you who's around! Click here for a
step-by-step guide on how to make your monitoring
- Hang a weta motel or two in your garden.
- Encourage birds into your garden by filling a shallow container with water. On a hot summer day, birds will enjoy a bath or a drink. You can also make a simple bird feeder (like the one pictured) by putting nails into a log to place fruit on, and smaller nails for birds to perch on, and hang from a tree branch by a chain. Note: Make sure you only attract birds if you live in a cat free area!