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Tourism company darts in to help save endangered birds

Jen Andrews - 13/02/09

A Queenstown jet boat company has joined forces with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to save endangered species nesting on the Dart River.

Dart River Jet Safaris, as part of its ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and wildlife, has pledged $5,000 over the next 12 months to help protect the black-fronted tern/tarapoe. The money will fund additional resources required by DOC for monitoring nest productivity and a trapping programme to reduce predators.

The Dart River is normally home to around 80 breeding terns, approximately three percent of the estimated national population. However, the fledglings of a colony on the river's mid reaches was completely wiped out last year.

DOC Wakatipu endangered species programme manager Barry Lawrence says Dart River Jet Safaris' help is vital.

"Our first priority is to monitor each endangered species to find out whether they're declining and why, and what we can do to help them. Evidence is growing that predators like cats and stoats and even black backed gulls are seriously threatening some of our braided river birdlife, particularly the black-fronted terns.

"Monitoring is time consuming and labour intensive so we're delighted our efforts have been recognised by Dart River Jet Safaris. Their contribution will enable us to collect information and provide additional trapping which will also protect other threatened species like wrybills, banded dotterels and black billed gulls."

In adjacent forests mohua are threatened by stoats and rats. Three months ago Dart staff helped DOC with its 'Operation Ark' mohua protection programme by spending two days ferrying staff and supplies up river so 75 mohua from Dart River forests could be sent to establish a new breeding colony on Secretary Island in Fiordland National Park.

Dart River Jet Safaris Manager Andy Chapman says the company is thrilled to help in any way it can to protect New Zealand's wildlife.

"Our usual day at the office is in the spectacular Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area so we're constantly reminded our environment is very special and must be protected. The team is passionate about keeping the area pristine and making a positive contribution to ensuring that the Dart River environment we enjoy so much today will be maintained for future generations."

Dart River Jet Safaris recently achieved Green Globe Benchmarked Bronze status for continuing efforts to improve its sustainable environmental and community practice. The company is now internationally recognised as operating to the world's highest environmental standards for energy and water consumption, total waste production and community commitment.

Black-fronted tern/tarapoe chick Black-fronted tern/tarapoe chick and egg
Black-fronted tern/tarapoe chick
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Black-fronted tern/tarapoe chick and egg
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Black-fronted tern in flight
Black-fronted tern in flight
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About Dart River Jet Safaris
Dart River Jet Safaris is now the only company to operate on the Dart River, taking visitors on the region's longest and most sensational jet boat ride into The Mt Aspiring National Park, within Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage area, one of New Zealand's most spectacular locations. With Dart River Jet Safaris visitors can explore the remote wilderness in three very different ways by Wilderness Safari, Jet Boat Safari or Funyak Safari.

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