By Hannah Brown
New Zealand’s rarest duck the pāteke is spreading its wings and spilling out of the Abel Tasman National Park and into Tasman Bay, following efforts to help the species survive.
Pāteke (also known as the brown teal) were once a common duck in New Zealand, but now they are the fourth most endangered duck in the world.
There are only 2,000-2,500 pāteke left, mostly in the North Island. Pāteke were listed as nationally endangered until 2008, but their conservation status has changed to recovering.
Abel Tasman National Park has become an important site for the survival of the birds.
Pāteke captive and reintroduction coordinator Kevin Evans said predator control in the park was a big factor in the success story.
Pāteke were also doing well in other regions, with eight other populations established.
In the last five years Project Janszoon had released 337 pāteke for breeding in the pest-controlled area.
Project Janszoon director Bruce Vander Lee said progress was pleasing.
“From the release sites in the north of the Abel Tasman Park they have had pāteke reported as far around the bay as Rabbit Island,” he said.
Birds had also been seen at Mārahau and Kaiteriteri.
“The reason we believe pāteke have been so successful in the park and are spreading out of the park is because we are controlling pests, mainly stoats.”
Project Janszoon is encouraging people to take steps to help pāteke survive.
Firstly, if you see a pāteke, report it to Project Janszoon. Pāteke sightings can be reported through the free Abel Tasman smartphone app or the firstname.lastname@example.org email.
Secondly, drive with caution around the coast and wetlands.
Thirdly, control pests in your area because pāteke are susceptible to stoats, as well as cats and dogs.
To spot a pāteke look for the brown colour and distinctive white eye ring.