Meet Rua the seabird dog

With his super sensitive nose, Rua can sniff out nesting seabird burrows. The introduction of predator species has decimated many seabird populations, so it is vital to locate new burrows to ensure they are protected and monitored.

Thanks to Rowan Jordan and his two daughters, Ruby (8) and Paige (5), who won the charity auction to help fund the seabird sniffing day*, Rua and his handler Jo were able to visit the A Rocha Aoteaora New Zealand-led Karioi project on 13 August. This community conservation project is working hard to ensure we don’t lose the last remaining seabird species breeding on Mt Karioi: the Ōi (Grey-Faced Petrel).

The day was enjoyed by all and Rowan and his daughters learnt what it takes to train a seabird dog. Rua didn’t just find Ōi burrows, he also found the burrows of three Little Blue Penguins (right), a first for Karioi!

Thanks to the dedicated and persistent hard work of the Karioi team this season, 46 Ōi burrows have been identified as currently active – meaning bird activity was identified – with 16 of these confirmed as breeding sites.

*This initiative was also made possible through funding from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, the Waikato Regional Council and WWF New Zealand.

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