Friday, January 19, 2007

ENV: Penguins endangered

Bird on 'endangered' list

The Fiordland crested penguin has been added to the Department of Conservation's nationally endangered list along with several other southern species of birds, fish and reptiles.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter yesterday announced the release of the second edition of the publication the New Zealand Threat Classification System lists, first released in 2002.
The new list updates the threat classification status of 5819 of New Zealand's native animals and plants.

Human-induced threats and the introduction of predators and pests continued to plague native species.

The updated threatened species list would be used for priority setting and future management of threatened species, he said.

DOC had pinpointed 40 species considered to have genuinely worsened in status in the past three years.

Among them was the Fiordland crested penguin, which was reclassified from gradual decline to nationally endangered.

In the early 1990s a population survey found 2260 penguin nests, giving a conservative population estimate of fewer than 5000 mature individuals.

The grey duck also moved into the nationally endangered category, because of continued hybridisation with introduced mallard ducks.

A species that had recently disappeared from Stewart Island-Rakiura, the South Island rifleman, was reclassified from not endangered to gradual decline. There was anecdotal evidence the species had disappeared or become less conspicuous in some South Island lowland forest areas.

On a brighter note, the status of the Codfish Island fernbird had improved, going from nationally critical to range restricted classification. "(The) birds are now much more abundant than before the rat eradication took place.

"A second, healthy population has also been established on another pest-free island using translocation techniques."

The Campbell mollymawk, also know as the New Zealand black-browed albatross, had improved from nationally vulnerable to range restricted.A native fish species known as Southern galaxias was reclassified as being in gradual decline – because of increases in threats to water quality related to land use in Southland.

The Otago skink was moved from the nationally endangered to nationally critical list. The species faces a severe threat of extinction within 10 years but the Central Otago Ecological Trust is working on a recovery plan in Alexandra.

A rare aphid, found previously only in Dolamore Park, near Gore, and in the Nelson Lakes area seemed to have disappeared from the latter site. It had been moved on to the nationally critical list.

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