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Southern Lakes Sanctuary secures vital funding

The Wānaka App

02 July 2024, 5:04 PM

Southern Lakes Sanctuary secures vital fundingSouthern Lakes Sanctuary staff members hiking into the Cascade Saddle to set traplines.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary (SLS) has secured enough funding to continue its conservation work in the Queenstown Lakes District, but it's not out of the woods yet, the conservation consortium says.

SLS - which drives predator control, restoring wildlife and protecting biodiversity across its 660,000ha catchment area - has recently secured over $1M from a range of private funders, businesses, philanthropic groups and local government agencies.

Established in June 2021 as a result of the Jobs For Nature funding, SLS has operated on $1.5M annually to coordinate and deliver major conservation projects throughout the region. 

However, with the three-year programme coming to an end in June 2024, the consortium was at risk of collapse if funding wasn’t maintained.

The group said that thanks to Central Lakes Trust, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand, Lotteries Commission and many others, including philanthropists Sir Michael Hill and Rod Drury, its conservation work can now continue.

Examples of outcomes include establishing a 100km-long alpine trapline between Wānaka and Glenorchy to help conserve vulnerable species such as kea and pīwauwau (rock wren); and protecting endangered mohua in Makarora from an impending rat plague through extensive trapping and monitoring. 

Over three months last summer, crew and volunteers walked more than 190,000km collectively to regularly check traps and bait stations with more than 5,000 rats exterminated.

A kea in the Matukituki Valley. 

SLS project director Paul Kavanagh said the conservation group’s success and milestones to date are the direct results of its impressive crew and their collaboration with countless volunteers.

He said SLS will continue to rely on annual funding.

“Restoring the region’s natural biodiversity takes time and ongoing commitment. There’s a lot to do but with a great crew, a supportive community and rapidly advancing technology we are optimistic about what the future holds and how we can contribute to it,” Paul said. 

“By 2030, we aim to have removed more than 250,000 predators in total, while maintaining a network of 30,000 traps and support the return of endemic birds across Wānaka and Whakatipu areas.”


He said he hopes it will become normal for anyone to see takahē wandering in the Rees Valley, hear a deafening chorus of birds at Bobs Cove and easily spot mohua and kea in the Matukituki Valley.

PHOTOS: Supplied