We financially fund this project of many years to assist the local population of yellow eyed penguins viewed by our customers. This has been extremely successful with the population slowly growing. The project is one of only two funded and managed by commercial operators. Others are funded by government and other organisations such as the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust.
Elm Wildlife Tours is pleased to work along side conservation aware land owners towards the preservation of Yellow Eyed Penguins, which are considered to be the world's rarest penguin species, with a little over 5000 remaining in the world. In the effort to save the Yellow Eyed Penguin, we have carried out extensive habitat planting, construction of nest sites and predator control, all of which are crucial to the survival of the penguins.
Each year, after the tourism season slows down, our guides, and local land owners, David and Alan have time to go about the tasks needed for the preservation of these rare birds. Plants propagated by our guides, donated by local farmers and others are used for the revegetation of new areas to be used by the penguins for breeding.
Yellow Eyed Penguins are very shy and rather anti social towards the other penguins, apart from their partner when in their breeding territory. As a coastal forest dwelling specie the vegetation provided gives the penguins the important privacy they require when it comes to breeding. If they can't hide they won't breed, it's as simple as that.
Another very important task is the control of introduced mammalian predators that prey on the penguin chicks during the breeding season. The local farmer, David is expert in carrying out this task. He runs trap lines that he checks every few days, and shoots those that he sees. The main predators that we are trying to control are mustilids, the stoat and ferret, and also feral cats, all of which prey upon chicks. Dogs are a problem for adult birds.
An unexpected bonus was discovered by some university students carrying out research on the blue penguins in 2004, the population for these tiny penguins was increasing, due most likely to the predator control being carried out by Dave. Other indirect beneficiary's of the conservation efforts are the Hooker sea lions resident on the tour beach.
Elm Wildlife tours were the instigators of, and provided the finance for the set up the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust in an effort to create an organisation which could attract funding to enable more research to be conducted on this threatened species.