The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, or Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ New Zealand to the CFZ global family.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Act now to save the Maui's dolphin from extinction | GREENPEACE New Zealand


Act now to save the Maui's dolphin from extinction

Send this message to the NZ Government now

NZ's tiny indigenous Maui's dolphin is on the brink of extinction. Unless substantial action is taken very soon - we will lose them forever. The New Zealand Government has proposed some interim action but it is not enough - send this message to Primary Industries Minister David Carter now urging stronger action:

Please note: Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Please correct the marked fields below.

Please edit the message as you see fit

Your full name *


Your full name

One of the fields in this row is required.

Email *



This field is required.

This is not a valid email adress. Please try again...

Country *

Select a countryAfghanistanÅland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCôte D'ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and McDonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People's Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People's Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedoniaMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldovaMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarRéunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint BarthélemySaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint MartinSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the SSISpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzaniaThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe


Select a country

This field is required.

Phone *



This field is required.

This is not a valid phone number.

Contact me? It is easy to unsubscribe, just click the 'unsubscribe' link in any newsletter.

Message subject

Message *

Like many Kiwis I am concerned about the alarmingly low number of Maui's dolphins revealed in the recent population study released by the Department of Conservation, and the serious decline in their population. I support urgent action to remove threats to the remaining dolphins, the main known threat being gillnet and trawler fishing in Maui's dolphin habitat. The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) estimated in 2008 that 110 to 150 Hector's and Maui's dolphins die in commercial set nets every year. I ask that you urgently implement a ban on gillnet and trawler fishing throughout Maui's dolphin habitat, to a depth of 100 meters. The urgent implementation of such an interim measure must be followed up by the adoption of a permanent protection measure to this effect. Extending the measures to protect Maui's dolphins is a matter of extreme urgency, as the very future of these small dolphins are at stake. These measures must be implemented in full, not compromised by industry interests when more selective and sustainable fishing methods are possible. New Zealand must not become the next country to confess to the world that our negligence has allowed a dolphin species to be wiped off the face of the earth. lets show the world that New Zealand is not one country that puts its money where its mouth is and does not idly sit by and watch another species vanish into oblivion without lifting a finger to stop that happening. We have done it before, the Black Robin is a classic example of New Zealanders not willing to let a species vanish forever. We have a reputation to keep up and the eyes of the world turn to us because we are not quitters.. Let's not start tarnishing this reputation now. The complete survival of this species lies in your hands and your voice.. What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask why this species became extinct. Will you just hang your head in shame and say "I did nothing". Tony K Lucas New Zeqaland



This field is required.

Your information is safe with us. Greenpeace will never share, sell or swap your information with

Act now to save the Maui's dolphin from extinction | GREENPEACE New Zealand

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Return of the saddleback - Story - Environment/Sci - 3 News


Return of the saddleback

The saddleback (photo supplied)

The saddleback (photo supplied)

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 4:33a.m.

The endangered saddleback will return to the Auckland mainland in March, for the first time in more than 150 years.

Ninety of the rare birds are being released into the open sanctuary at Tawharanui Regional Park, and will test its success as a pest-free sanctuary.

The saddleback, or tieke, is the latest in a long line of residents brought in to the sanctuary – kiwi, pateke, robins and whiteheads have all been introduced, and bellbirds and kaka have returned of their own accord.

Massey University’s Dr Kevin Parker says the birds will be sourced from three different colonies, which he hopes will strengthen “genetic fitness and overall population health” – if it is practical.

He says it is unknown if the birds, which will have different songs specific to the colony they come from, will be “willing to pair and breed”.

Predators, particularly rats, were responsible for the saddleback’s disappearance from the mainland in the mid to late 1800s.

Stolen huia feathers worth $40,000 - Story - Environment/Sci - 3 News#comment#comment


Stolen huia feathers worth $40,000

Valuable tail feathers from a stuffed huia have been stolen from a Dannevirke museum

Valuable tail feathers from a stuffed huia have been stolen from a Dannevirke museum

By Charlotte Shipman

Valuable tail feathers from a stuffed huia have been stolen from a rural museum. 

It is estimated the handful of feathers from the extinct bird could be worth around $40,000, but those who have been guardians of the bird fear the loss of heritage value is much greater.

The theft of the huia's tail feathers is now part of a police investigation.

“It's part of our heritage, our history, it's something we can't recapture so we're hoping someone out there has a conscience or someone knows who has taken it,” says Senior Sergeant Sue Leach.

The 123-year-old feathers were stolen from the Dannevirke Gallery of History where two of the birds have been displayed for 25 years.

Pat Mills works at the museum and says it is the first theft they have had since it opened in 1987.

“When it was discovered I just felt sick to the stomach.”

“I was absolutely devastated.”

Entry to the museum is just $2 but the feathers are worth much more.

In 2010 a single huia feather sold at auction for $8400.

It is not known exactly how may tail feathers are gone but they could be worth around $40,000.

“There are very few that are in such good conditions are these ones were,” says Mr Mills.

The native birds became extinct in the early 1900s.

The museum’s two birds are thought to have been the last in the Pohangina Valley and were shot in 1889 as a wedding gift.

Police are also considering DNA testing the remaining feathers, so the stolen ones can easily be matched to the bird if they are found.

3 News

Stolen huia feathers worth $40,000 - Story - Environment/Sci - 3 News#comment#comment

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Helping Hand For Hutton's Shearwater In Kaikoura... |

So many species of oceanic bird are becoming extinct or endangered it is truly heartwarming to realise that there are some people out there willing to do their part, whatever it takes to stop this happening.
My sincere accolades to those of you who do this job and will be remembered by generations of the future.

Catching Hutton's shearwaters is hands-on. Or more like arms in.

You plunge shoulder-deep into the labyrinth of muddy burrows on tussock-covered mountain slopes, feeling for a disturbed chick's indignant peck.

"I've got a beautiful chick in here," exclaims Conservation Department biodiversity programme manager Phil Bradfield.

He carefully extracts the squawking ball of grey fluff and measures its wing length to check if it is a suitable age – that it will fledge in a few weeks. "A lot of people think bird work is glamorous," Bradfield jokes, his arms covered in mud.

Fellow chick collector Mike Bell, operations manager for Wildlife Management International, agrees. "Your arm gets scratched to bits, there's mud everywhere but we love it."

Over three days last week, the pair plus Marlborough contractor Dave Barker collected 102 chicks from high in the Seaward Kaikoura Range.

Packed in cardboard carry boxes, they are airlifted by helicopter to a man-made colony on Kaikoura Peninsula, only minutes from the touristy seaside township, to boost numbers already there.

"This [relocation] is possibly the most publicly accessible in the world," Bell says.

When these endangered seabirds fledge, the location of their new home will be imprinted on their birdbrains. In about three years their internal navigation will guide them back there to breed.

Hutton's shearwaters' population is estimated at 420,000 birds with 106,000 breeding pairs at the head of the Kowhai River catchment and 8000 breeding pairs on Puhi Peaks Station, about 10 kilometres north in the same mountain range.

That there are only two breeding colonies worldwide makes the bird vulnerable to extinction.

Historically, other birds were their only predators, but human impacts, such as fires and hunting, plus introduced pests and predators, have destroyed many colonies.

Of eight colonies found in the mid-1960s in the Seaward Kaikoura Range, their sole refuge nationwide, only two remained by the early 1980s. Anecdotal evidence indicates pigs wiped out the other six colonies, digging up burrows and gorging on chicks.

"The theory is these two colonies have survived as it's so gnarly to get in and pigs haven't found their way in yet," Bradfield says. "It would be like a picnic for a pig here. They would scoff the lot."

Goats, deer and chamois damage underground burrows while traversing the fragile terrain. The tracks they create potentially allow pigs to enter.

Possums, rats and hedgehogs are other predators.

Stoats have large home ranges and defend them from other stoats, therefore only a handful live in the crammed shearwater colony, having minimal impact on their numbers.

In 2005, a trial was started at the Kaikoura Peninsula to create a founding population. About 12 chicks were placed in wooden burrows, with plastic pipe exits, dug into the grass-covered hillside.

Over the following three years, 273 chicks were relocated there from the Kowhai colony, but success was marred due to cats killing many birds.

Urgent action came in the form of the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust, established in late 2008.

It raised $300,000 to erect a predator-proof fence to protect the peninsula colony.

The chicks relocated last week are the first to live behind the predator-proof fence.

In the past few years, a handful of breeding pairs have returned to the man-made colony but early breeding by the young birds has been fraught, Bell says.

This year, four pairs laid an egg each but only one hatched – a major breakthrough. That chick will fledge in a few weeks, then migrate to the Timor Sea, via Australia, to winter.

Bell says the 102 chicks relocated from the Kowhai colony last week are an important boost to ensure the peninsula colony's long-term survival.

Next year, a further 100 chicks will be shifted there from their mountain home.

Typically, pairs return to their colony in late August to mate and prepare burrows.

Egg laying starts about a month later, with one parent sitting on the nest for five to 10 days while the other feeds at sea.

After about 50 days, the eggs hatch and chicks take three more months to fledge. The parents leave their chicks alone in the burrow during the day while they forage at sea, to return at night to feed them half-digested fish which they regurgitate.

Chicks become 25 per cent heavier than parents butstart to lose weight a month before they fledge, putting most of their energy into growing feathers and muscles. In the final week, or so, they stop eating to lose weight and start practising to fly.

Bell says chicks get no parental help in learning to fly and fish. Many die in the first year, most in the few weeks, with fatter chicks having greater survival odds.

However, a seven-year study into breeding success has shown an improvement in the odds over the past three years.

"We suspect it's about what is going on out to sea," Bradfield says.

One possibility is a set-netting ban off the east coast, introduced in 2008, although it has recently been relaxed by the Government.

"There are lots of horror stories of netting Hutton's shearwater. You don't just catch one, you might catch hundreds," Bell says.

Barker agrees, saying many chicks high on the mountain die of starvation as a result.

Last Thursday evening, the last 50 chicks are flown to the peninsula.

A full moon rises out of the sea as the last chick is nestled into its artificial burrow.

"It's a positive sign," Te Runanga O Kaikoura representative Brett Cowan says. The shearwater are a taonga species, and historically were an important food source for Maori.

Over coming weeks, a team of seven feeders, including Barker, will give their charges "sardine smoothies" until they launch into the world, taking with them the hopes for a new community.

Farewell celebrations for the departing fledging birds will be held on March 31 and April 1 in Kaikoura.

As Bell says, the new 2.4-hectare peninsula colony has enough room for tens of thousands of Hutton's shearwaters.

These special seabirds will get all the help they need from the trust and supportive community to transform the peninsula from barren farmland to a rich Hutton's shearwater colony bulging with life.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Search is on for NZ's last Kakapos

They are calling it the search for the last kakapo, according to Fairfax newspapers.

A Conservation Department (DOC) team flew to Fiordland - the endangered birds' last mainland stronghold - in the hope of finding evidence of their existence in historic breeding areas.

The trip was sparked by a credible-sounding report from trampers that the ground-dwelling parrot's distinctive "booming", or mating call, was heard in the remote Transit Valley, near Milford Sound, on New Year's Day.

If audio recorders left on the valley's rugged ridgelines pick up further booming, it will be the first confirmed sign of kakapo on mainland New Zealand for decades.

Kakapo Recovery Programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said the mission was a long shot, but the discovery of new birds would be significant for the population's recovery.

Once threatened with extinction by stoats, ferrets, weasels and cats, the kakapo is now threatened by poor genetics.

All but three of the remaining 126 birds, living on two predator-free islands, originate solely from Stewart Island stock.

Scientists believe that genetic bottleneck has led to complications with the breeding programme, including high levels of infertility and embryo death.

Concerns about poor genetics has prompted DOC to consider removing one bird, Basil, from the breeding programme after the death of four of his young progeny since 2004, including one young male that died last week.

Southland-based DOC technical support manager Andy Cox, whose first kakapo-related trip to the Transit Valley was in 1976, said finding birds with Fiordland DNA was potentially valuable.

"This report sounds particularly hopeful and we've just got to keep our fingers crossed," he said.

Kakapo can live for 90 years, and some Fiordland kakapo fitted with radio transmitters in the 1980s have never been found. A DOC-led search in Fiordland in 2006 proved fruitless.

Last week, Vercoe Scott's team spent four nights camped on the eastern side of Transit Valley in an area known as "kakapo castle". The trip was funded by the Christchurch-based Mohua Charitable Trust.

The team set up audio recorders and checked known breeding sites.

Vercoe Scott said there were no fresh signs of kakapo.

"I think it's quite unlikely that we'll discover anything this year, but we'll earmark that area for the next breeding season and return those recorders just to make sure," she said.

DOC intends to retrieve the recorders within two weeks.

The species seemed doomed until the discovery of about 200 kakapo on Stewart Island in 1977. However, numbers continued to drop, hitting a low of 51 in 1995.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Dem Bones


Another highlight for the week was the arrival of 70 odd pieces of Moa bone which I picked up cheaply on an Internet auction site.
I am currently in the process of cleaning the bones. and the whole process is quite fascinating.
They will be a valuable addition to my collection.
Amongst what is there it does not like there is any bones of the largest species, but what is there seems to range from young to mature birds.

moa 005


Abnormals are Fun

It is with much regret that I must report the loss of the CFZ-NZ mascot Oscar (fish), he mysteriously disappeared out of a totally enclosed tank. And after some hunting was brought in by the dog, carrying him ever so gently in her mouth. There was not a mark on him, and he had been dead for some time as he was quite dry.

This led to a very large empty fish tank. I decided to transfer the whitebait and reset up the current maker to simulate a river bottom.
All went well for a few days and then I suddenly found I was down to 2 whitebait. The next day was down to the large female so I was determined to sort out this mystery.
Now Nelson was a very big fish, and considering this fact and the amount of waste an Oscar producers I had removed the need projective funnel from the bottom of the filter tube, the mystery of the missing whitebait solved and the filter funnel was replaced. I am now down to one large female whitebait but should have no problem getting more once the whitebait season starts again in September.frogs 003

The highlight of the week however, was while browsing the local pet shops I came across three fish tanks full of frogs. Someone had thoughtfully segregated the deformed one's from the normal ones. Most of the deformities, and there were quite a number of frogs.
I suspect a large number of deformities are due to some toxins in the water where they would gathered. Regrettably the owner of the shop had no idea where they had been gathered from.
What caught my attention most was that four of these blind frogs, and they are blind as there is no sign of vestigial eyes whatsoever, the four  that caught my attention were a golden colour. Although at the transitional stage I had never before heard of golden litoria aurea, so was very anxious to get my hands on these animals.frogs 008
I set them up in a tank at home and they seemed quite happy, although regrettably one found the only gap in the lid of the tank and was found dry and dead on the study floor. It has since been preserved and a jar of methylated spirits.

After Jon referred me on to Richard fish food was recommended and as the frogs mature hand feeding. I am ever so grateful for your help Richard, thank you.

frogs 023Even though I have not seen them eat their bellies seem to look full and they seemed quite content.
These new abnormals were quite a delight to my granddaughter who remembers the last time we had frogs and she had to run around with a net catching flies to be put into a jar and then into the freezer to slow them down for transfer into the frog tank.

It should be very interesting to see how these abnormals develop and they are extremely fascinating to watch.
Judging from the percentage of abnormals however it is easy to see why frogs worldwide are in danger.