This project has been designed so that hunters in the ballot can make a valuable contribution to the conservation of the world’s only alpine parrot.
The Kea Sightings Project is run by small group of volunteers who are passionate about kea. They aim to make people aware of the plight of the kea, to encourage everyone to be actively involved in saving this amazing species, and to gather useful scientific information on kea ecology and behaviour.
The ballot area is particularly important as we know that Kea feed on tahr carcasses in the winter and this protein source may be important to their nesting success. By recording kea sightings and individually banded kea we gain a better understanding of how far and where they move, how many new birds are recruited into the population each year and lots more.
To initiate a cost-effective long-term monitoring program for Kea (Nestor notabilis) present in the Hooker/Landsborough and Adams Wilderness Areas during the Tahr Ballot May-July, using hunter observations.
- The development of a cost-effective monitoring strategy for Kea in less accessible areas of conservation estate.
- An increasing understanding of Kea and their populations trends in mountainous environments during the pre-nesting period.
- Increased Tahr hunter awareness of and participation in the conservation of Kea, contributing to the kaitiakitanga of our Wilderness Areas.
This project was initiated by;
- The NZ Tahr Foundation (NZTF) who were established to manage tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) to provide sustainable hunting whilst conserving alpine vegetation.
- The Game Animal Council as a Statutory Body to facilitate the project.
- The Kea Conservation Trust, set up in 2006 to assist in conservation of Kea in their natural habitat amongst other things.
The Kea Conservation Trust and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation has been formally working with each other since March 2016 utilising hunters to monitor Kea in the Wapiti area of Fiordland National Park. The data is collected and analysed to establish a baseline for the local kea population and to develop a sustainable community protection programme for Fiordland kea. This partnership has been highly successful and demonstrates a time-proven model for using hunters to monitor Kea in remote parks of New Zealand’s backcountry
The Tahr Ballot Kea Sightings Project expands on the partnership approach between the Kea Conservation trust and other organisations to integrate the sustainable management of valued introduced species with indigenous species protection programmes.
The Tahr Ballot was chosen due to there being existing parameters i.e. set timeframe and location on an annual basis, with up to 220 hunting parties taking part over a 3-month period.
The project was launched in the ballot of 2021 to continue indefinitely.
In 2021, a ‘Kea Sighting Survey’ form was provided to hunting parties to fill out during their tahr hunt and returned at the end of the hunt.
Assessing the effectiveness of the survey, including potential improvements to data quality and methods to encourage improved and continued participation will be a key focus of the NZTF throughout ongoing years. Also the development of ways to increase the value of observing kea during hunting trips for hunters and how to increase the value hunters can provide to understanding the requirements for long term kea survival.