Badger experience helping penguins at Curio
Friday 13th April, 2012Irish ecologist Dr Chris Smal probably never envisaged advising a New Zealand conservation project about the potential use of underpasses or elevated roadways for yellow-eyed penguins, especially given that his experience to date has been with species such as badgers and deer in the northern hemisphere.
However, because of a chance contact made with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust through his son, Bastian, studying at the University of Otago, he generously took time out of his New Zealand holiday to do exactly that.
The South Catlins Development & Environment Charitable Trust recently purchased a block of coastal forest at Curio Bay, adjacent to the petrified forest and yellow-eyed penguin breeding area, but separated by a road. Part of the development may include a realignment of the road, presenting an opportunity to reconnect the coast to the forested hinterland by the use of underpasses. Commonly used overseas, underpasses are rather novel in the New Zealand context but, if proved feasible, may mean future generations of penguins can once again move freely from the existing flax nesting area to the forest inland.