This Forest & Bird initiative to protect pekapeka (long-tailed bats) from predators in the catchment began nearly two decades ago, with the addition of bat monitoring in 2018. In December 2021, the Bat Recovery Project secured a boost to expand the programme by partnering with Te Hoiere Project and the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme. Today, this predator control, monitoring, and habitat restoration programme is securing the protection of this threatened species in key locations across the catchment.
Pekapeka are a threatened (nationally critical) species, meaning they are at a high risk of extinction. New Zealand’s only true land mammal, these bats can be found feeding on small moths and mosquitoes at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve and other sites managed by the Department of Conservation.
While Forest & Bird has had a dedicated trapping network in the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve to protect roosting sites for years, the current three-year funding boost is the first major effort to protect and restore pekapeka habitats in the area. This work not only focuses on the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, but three other DOC managed reserves in the Rai Valley—Brown River Reserve, Carluke Scenic Reserve and Ronga Recreation Reserve—where there was previously little to no predator management.
The 2023 summer season marked the fifth year of bat monitoring, where the priority shifted from Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve to the less-studied Rai Valley subpopulation. A thermal imaging device (infra-red) was also used for the first time in the Bat Recovery Project, to collect information about roosting locations. This monitoring informs management decisions about where to control predators and restore habitats.
In 2024, six hectares of eco-sourced seedlings will be planted in the Ronga Reserve to restore this pekapeka habitat for generations to come.
Photos above show the 2022-2023 season, including the 5th year of bat monitoring. Photos: Connor Wallace, Forest & Bird
Photos above show the 2023-2024 season. This includes preparations in 2023 for the 2024 Ronga Reserve plantings, as well as rodent monitoring with Clare, Jess and Henry of Forest & Bird; calibration of traps for Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve (DOC200); Department of Conservation rangers Phil and Colin (pictured) help F&B get traps across the river in Ronga.
Photos: Forest & Bird