Rare wee­vil in dan­ger of be­ing nob­bled

The Tribune (NZ) - - OUT & ABOUT - ANTHEA MCCLELLAND, FOR­EST & BIRD MANAWATU

Most of us have heard about the ka¯ka¯po¯, takahe¯ or the Ma¯ui dol­phin. But what about the knob­bled wee­vil, ket­tle­hole cud­weed (a plant) or New Zealand bat­fly?

All are all rated as ‘‘na­tion­ally crit­i­cal’’ on the New Zealand threat­ened species list, as they are at the great­est risk of ex­tinc­tion.

New Zealand has one of the high­est lev­els of threat for na­tive species in the world.

The Can­ter­bury knob­bled wee­vil is a rare, 15mm-long flight­less wee­vil with a knobbed back.

It is en­demic to the Burkes Pass, Can­ter­bury area, where it de­pends on a very spe­cific plant called golden spear­grass ( Aci­phylla au­rea) for its food and shel­ter.

Our flora and fauna is an­cient and unique – we have flight­less birds, frogs with­out tad­poles, bats that crawl on the ground, pen­guins that live in forests, and trees from the age of the di­nosaurs. We also have gi­ant in­ver­te­brates and fish that can live out of wa­ter.

Mam­mals have had an im­pact on our na­tive species, which evolved with­out preda­tors, so had no de­fence. They still don’t.

It is not only mam­mals that threaten our unique species. In­va­sive weeds threaten about a third of our na­tive species, di­rectly, or by chang­ing their habi­tats.

As Kiwi con­ser­va­tion leg­end Don Merton (1939 –2011) wrote: ‘‘We don’t have an­cient architecture that we can be proud of and swoon over in won­der, but what we do have is some­thing that is far, far older than that. No one else has kiwi, no one else has ka¯ka¯po¯.

‘‘They have been around for mil­lions of years, if not thou­sands of mil­lions of years. And once they are gone, they are gone for­ever. And it’s up to us to make sure they never die out.’’

When a beetle, an orchid or a bird dis­ap­pears for­ever, it does mat­ter.

To learn more, come to the For­est and Bird Manawatu monthly talk to be given by Ni­cola Toki, Threat­ened Species Am­bas­sador,for the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion at the Globe Theatre on Oc­to­ber 10, at 7.30pm.

PHOTO: MIKE BOWIE/SUPPLIED

The threat­ened Can­ter­bury knob­bled wee­vil (Hadram­phus tu­ber­cu­la­tus).

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