“To leave a legacy of an if not pristine, at least an unspoilt natural environment in which we offer our adventures. A natural environment that if possible is healthier than when we started. To do this we have to be agitators, we have to lead by example, we have to care.”
– Company Director Brian Megaw
Protected Bird Species
Known for its dawn chorus, the New Zealand bush at one time pulsed with the sound of native birds and here at River Valley our mission is to once again hear the bush come alive with the chorus of birdsong.
Listed below are a number of the birds that we focus our conservation efforts on. Hover over the image to see our mission for each species and if you’d like some more information, click to head on over to the DOC website loaded with interesting facts.
Targeted Pest Species
To achieve the vision of a return of the Dawn Chorus, a vision that is shared by so many other people all over New Zealand who are also doing their bit, requires an unrelenting long term effort.
To call it a war would not be wrong. If we lose, we lose so many unique species of animals and birds that are found no where else. Listed below are a number of the pest species that impact on our native bird life. Of this group we concentrate on rats and stoats. Our trapping operations also kill other mustelids such as weasles and ferrets, plus hedgehogs
(which are a significant predator of ground nesting birds) .
Feral cats are either shot or trapped in cage traps and then put down. Hover over the image to see our mission for each species and if you’d like some more information, click to head on over to the DOC website loaded with interesting facts.
The trap lines laid out and checked by the River Valley team and local community cover 20 kilometres of the Rangitikei River and a number of streams and fenced off bush remnants in the Pukeokahu area
Rats and hedgehogs tend to be more commonly caught on or near farmland, probably reflecting the lack of biodiversity in this sort of habitat, while the river canyon is where the majority of stoats are killed. The trap lines on farmland however are a line of defence to slow movement of more predators into the river canyon.
To find out more about where our trap lines are located download this Google Earth KMZ File. Download the small file and when complete double click that file and it should put you into Google Earth with all of the new data loaded .
The Birth of a Community Conservation Project
The Project started from very humble beginnings back in 2011. However, the desire to give back in a conservation and environmental sense had long been part of our ethos.
Initially we decided we would over a period of time buy a few stoat traps on a regular basis, and starting with the area around the Lodge, we would slowly create a safe haven for native species. We were focused on bringing back native birds, but did not have any particular bird species as a target (though we did see the rare Whio on the river on occasion).
In early 2013 however, the Department of Conservation (DOC) learned what we doing and offered us 100 DOC200 traps in boxes for free. Of course the catch was that we had to lay most of them out, bait and check them each month. A cunning move on the part of DOC as they got a greater area of predator control for very little ongoing cost. I believe these traps were funded through DOCs Whio protection initiatives.
Of the original 100 traps, 30 were laid out on neighbouring properties plus at the local Primary School, to be checked by them, while the balance were either laid out on the banks along the Rangitikei River, both upstream and downstream from River Valley Lodge, or in the surrounding area to be checked by us.
This was the status quo for the first 18 months or so of “The Project”.
Several things we did do during this time was enlist the services of scientist Bob Jordan and keep the local community appraised of what we were doing. Bob Jordan collates our catch data, the GPS positions of all our traps, and displays all this information on Google. To find out more about where our trap lines are located download this Google Earth KMZ File. Download the small file and when complete double click that file and it should put you into Google Earth with all of the new data loaded .
During late 2014 we held a district information evening at River Valley Lodge and updated the community on what we were doing, how successful it was, and put the question to them about who else would like to be involved. DOC representatives also attended and presented.
This lead to a further 50 traps being supplied by the Ruahine Whio Protection Trust. These traps extended the area being covered on the river (checked by River Valley), and also covered some fenced off native forest remnants and small waterways on neighbouring farms (checked by individual farmers).