Hello friends and family.
Visitors come to Katiki Point from all around the world and they want to see the penguins. Mostly they enjoy the natural beauty of the place, are respectful and go away pleased that they came here. Almost all of them come without any research into what they will see, maybe a look at Trip Advisor or a referral from another traveller that they have met along the way.
Some of them are not pleased at all. The penguins are resting which is not very interesting – or preening which may not make for a good photo. In both cases, the response is to shout or clap to get the bird’s attention and get the action shot.
The visitors all go as close to the wildlife as they possibly can, crowding along the fence line and leaning over, often with selfie sticks or phones to get that shot. It is my view that this is a symptom of the real problem, which is lack of control. Uncontrolled ecotourism destroys penguin colonies and this one has moved to the top of the vulnerable list.
It is the largest Yellow-eyed penguin colony on Mainland New Zealand and I have been forced to stop protecting it. I will continue to mitigate the damage to the penguins from uncontrolled ecotourism as much as I can and to provide them with the safest possible habitat. I will fail. This colony will continue to crash and soon there will be no penguins left for the tourists to see. Based on what has happened at other colonies, it will only take a couple of years.
Yesterday Hiltrun and I micro-chipped the rest of the chicks and brought the under-weight ones into care for treatment. We now have 12 in care. We released the 2 injured adults back into the wild. The male was very vocal on his return home – letting all of the penguins know that he was back.
The other species are fledging chicks except for the Sooty Shearwaters. They are well into the process and there are still a lot of them coming home each night. Their chicks usually fledge in the autumn.
Have a great week!