Friday, November 30, 2007

ENV: Yellow-eyed Penguins

New reserve opened for rare penguin
TV New Zealand, Nov 27, 2007 7:15 PM

The world's rarest penguin found only in New Zealand has a new haven thanks to DOC and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.

A wildlife reserve has been opened in South Otago to protect the bird.

The yellow-eyed penguin is so rare that there are fewer than 500 breeding pairs left in the world.

Now, 50 hectares of land along a South Otago coastline has been secured to ensure the birds' future.

"I'll be bringing my grandchildren here to have a look, and know that they'll come back and bring their children. And they'll see that some people made a line in the sand for NZ, love this country, and away they went," says Environment Minister Steve Chadwick.

The coastline is home to nearly 50 breeding pairs of yellow-eyes, which make up nearly 10% of all the yellow-eyed penguins on mainland NZ.

The land, which will in time be open to the public, was bought by the Department of Conservation and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust from a local farmer.

"When you're a farmer you're just a custodian of the land for the next generation and this coastline is pretty special," says Max Affleck, a farmer.

"There's a lot of work to do here&this is a very big project ahead, but I can see with their enthusiasm they'll do it," Chadwick says.

"This is a huge step for the trust. The work that we want to do here will also help other species, it's not just about the yellow-eyed penguin though they of course are our icon species," says Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust spokesperson Sue Murray.

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