Te Awamutu Courier

Taking steps to preserve pekapeka

Surveys to determine presence of bats in district


About 15 volunteers in Cambridge will embark on a project of vital importance this month to help gather informatio­n about a unique, historymak­ing but critically endangered species.

Waipa¯ District Council has teamed up with the Department of Conservati­on, local volunteers from Predator Free Cambridge, and ecologist Adam Purcell from Titoki Landcare, to undertake acoustic surveys to identify where long-tailed bats, known also as pekapeka, are present throughout the district.

Waipa¯ arborist planner Chris Brockelban­k says the survey will help them to better understand how bats lived alongside people.

“We are starting in north and east Cambridge as the pekapeka have

previously been recorded there.”

Chris says bats lived in urban parts of Waikato such as Cambridge, but

little was known about how many there were, where exactly they lived and what they needed to survive.

“We suspect they use trees in urban areas as safe roosts during the time when they are vulnerable, such as when their metabolism slows down in cold weather or when they are raising pups.

“From these safe places, bats use ‘highways’ such as rivers to travel out into rural areas to feed.”

Acoustic surveying would provide informatio­n to enable council to balance growth and developmen­t with protecting the habitat that these taonga need to survive and thrive alongside human communitie­s, she said.

Predator Free Cambridge and bat survey community co-ordinator Karen Barlow says volunteers would be installing and later retrieving more than 30 automatic bat monitors (ABM) into trees around council and privately-owned land in north and east Cambridge at predetermi­ned sites.

ABMs would be installed and left to record acoustic sounds over weeks before being collected.

“Pekapeka are in Cambridge but they are a mobile and cryptic species,” says Karen.

“Data collected by the monitors will be analysed to determine where bats are present or not present within the survey area.”

Volunteers undertook training with Adam at Lake Te Koo Utu yesterday, one of the monitoring sites.

“Waipa¯ and DoC are fortunate enough that they have a bunch of keen volunteers concerned with species conservati­on who can help out with this critical work,” says Adam.

The long-tailed bat, which weighs only 8-11 grams, made history in November last year when it was voted as Forest and Bird’s New Zealand “Bird of the Year”.

Together with its relative, the short-tailed bat, is the only land mammal indigenous to Aotearoa.

It also has the highest threat ranking in New Zealand of “Nationally Critical”.

“Pekapeka is also important to tangata whenua, and knowledge of their former distributi­on is reflected in some of the place names around Waipa¯,” says Chris.

 ?? Photo / Supplied ?? A survey to determine how long-tailed bats live alongside people will start in Cambridge this month.
Photo / Supplied A survey to determine how long-tailed bats live alongside people will start in Cambridge this month.

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