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Author Topic: Question for our New Zealand friends...  (Read 1986 times)

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Offline Paschale

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Question for our New Zealand friends...
« on: January 16, 2007, 10:33:54 PM »
So, I'm watching David Attenborough's series The Life of Birds on DVD, and just now, he talking about New Zealand.  He mentioned that the first people to arrive on New Zealand's shores came around 1500 years ago.  What was astonishing about was what he had to say after this, that man was the first land-based mammal to set foot on the shores of New Zealand.  This is absolutely astounding to me, but seems plausible, since it is an isolated island.  Apparently, there are several flightless birds on New Zealand that he says survived because of the lack of mammalian predators. 

I have to trust that this is true, but what sorts of mammals have crept onto the shores of New Zealand over the years and live there now?  Obviously there must be horses and cattle, and dogs and cats.  And when there are ships traveling across the seas, there are sure to be rats.  I suspect some fool brought over rabbits at some point too, but what other mammals live on New Zealand now?
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline DanG

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 10:53:37 PM »
WIMMEN!  Good lookin' ones, too! 8) 8)
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline Furby

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 11:17:53 PM »
Quote
Some 53 exotic mammals were introduced (most of them deliberately) and of these 31 are at present living in a free state. Those deliberately introduced include the wallaby, opossum, stoat, ferret, weasel, eight species of deer, thar, chamois, rabbit, hare, and hedgehog. Species released in the eighteenth century by Captain Cook or which have escaped and become feral, include the pig, goat, cattle, sheep, and horse.

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Offline Paschale

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 11:18:11 PM »
 :D :D :D :D

And the best kind of mammal!   ;)
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline Ianab

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 12:20:57 AM »
Yup, before the humans arrived here about 1000 years ago (The Polynesian Maori people) there were no land mammels in NZ. All the native fauna is birds, lizards, a couple of species of bat and many assorted bugs, snails, worms etc.
The main grazing animal would have been the Moa birds, the biggest ones were about twice the size of an ostrich. When the Moari arrived that must have seemed like the ultimate, catch one bird and feed the whole tribe. Unfortunately they ate them all  :(

The main problem with the larger introduced animals now is that there is no predators for them (OK that might be a good thing in some ways). But nothing like the Mt Lion, wolf etc to control the numbers of wild goats and deer, and with the mild winters there is food all year round for them. They just increase in number untill they eventually strip the forest of all undergrowth and regenerating forest and the forest collapses. Conservation department  puts a lot of effort into controlling them, and hunting is encouraged, but with the rough terrain exterminating them is practically impossible.

The other main pest in the forest is the Aussie Bush tailed possum. Now in Aussie it's a cute furry animal thats protected by law. Here it's a  MAJOR pest, shot on sight, poisened and run down on the road  ::) There are still millions of them out there. The fur does make nice coats though  :D

Some of the native animals have adapted quite well to the new arrivals and land being converted from forest to farmland. The local harrier hawks main diet is road kill possums  ::)
Others are common around gardens and farmland. Other like the kiwi are in trouble because they are not used to predators like ferrets and rats  :(

Cheers

Ian
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Offline BigTrev

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2007, 04:01:13 PM »
And don't forget the NZ giant eagle, 6-8' wingspan, largest raptor in history. It was still around when people arrived but died out with the Moa, thier primary prey.
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Offline Paschale

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 04:26:43 PM »
The story of the kakapo was fascinating.  They thought it had gone extinct on the South Island, but then they found some living in another part, and then transferred those to a couple of cat free islands, if I have the story correct.  Apparently, there was one lone male who made the annual trek, walking on a trail that had been used for years and years by kakapos.  He'd get into a little burrow, and then puff up his resonating chamber, and make one of the coolest bird calls I've ever heard.  That guy died apparently in 1985, and they thought all was lost until relatively recently.  But it's still on the edge of extinction, from what the program said.  But how cool that bird is!

Kakapo

I never knew kiwis were nocturnal birds either, until I saw this program.  Apparently they're as blind as bats practically, and sniff out the little bugs that they eat at the waters edge. 

Why is the kiwi so important (compared to the other birds) for it to become the animal by which New Zealand is so identified? 

I sure wish the moas were still around.  That would be one heck of an impressive bird.  And that raptor would be impressive too.  But the Andean Condor, which is still around, has an impressive 11 ft. wingspan! 

I find it all quite fascinating.

I suppose the way this thread is going, I should have placed this in the Birds thread.   ::)
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline jon12345

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 04:29:09 PM »
What are the hunting/firearm regulations like in NZ that more people aren't out there shooting more of the feral animals? 
A.A.S. in Forest Technology.....Ironworker

Offline Ianab

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 06:08:55 PM »
What are the hunting/firearm regulations like in NZ that more people aren't out there shooting more of the feral animals? 

Pretty strict, but you can get a gun licence easy enough as long as you dont have a serious record. Hunting is a pretty popular passtime. The problem is the terrain you are hunting in, usually steep, heavy undergrowth and a lot of remote areas. Gives the deer / goats / pigs a fighting chance of getting away  ;)

The kakapo is actually a parrot, flightless and nocturnal, so it got hit pretty hard by introduced pests. The Kea is another interesting one, it's a large alpine parrot, very intelligent and inqusitive. Usually makes a nuisance of itself by dismantling cars at skifields. They have a fascination for wing mirrors and window rubbers  :D

The kiwi aren't actually blind, but being nocturnal they dont reley in their eyes that much. They are a fascinating bird to watch, very active and physical when they are hunting. The adult birds can look after themselves, but the chicks get killed by ferrets and cats. Most NZers (me included) have only seen kiwi in a zoo. I've been out in the bush and heard them calling and running around, but actually finding one is a fluke.

Because there were no land mammels many birds and insects took over the niches in the ecosystem that are not normaly occupied by them. There are even carnivorus snails out there, they only hunt earthworms, no 'attack of the killer snails' movie here :D

Cheers

Ian
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Offline BigTrev

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 07:53:43 PM »
Found this little snipet about that eagle, turns out the old memory aint as flash as I thought it was  :D

Before human settlement 700 years ago, New Zealand had no terrestrial mammals, apart from three species of bats. Instead, about 250 species of birds dominated the terrestrial ecosystem. At the top of the food chain was the extinct Haasts eagle. With a wingspan of 2.5 to 3 meters (around 3 yards) and a weight of between 10 and 14 kilograms (up to 31 pounds), Haasts eagle was about 30-40% heavier than the largest living bird of prey, the harpy eagle of Central and South America.  Haasts eagle was approaching the upper weight limit of powered flight, scientists say.
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Question for our New Zealand friends...
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2007, 12:22:58 AM »
That reminds me of the story about the bumblebee. According to theory, the bumblebee cannot fly. However, the bumblebee does not know this and flies anyway. :D
I understand moose were also introduced to NZ and managed to survive due to the difficult terrain and lack of predators.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm


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