Monday, August 17, 2009

Locals pitch in to help penguins

Locals pitch in to help penguins

Published: 6:44PM Sunday August 16, 2009

Source: ONE News

Dunedin locals are mucking in to help protect one of the rarest penguins in the world.

Because of their diligence the Department of Conservation (DOC) says yellow-eyed penguin nesting numbers have doubled at Sandfly Bay on the Otago peninsula in the last year.

More and more yellow-eyed penguins, or Hoiho, are deciding to call Sandfly Bay home.

"Clearly words got round in the penguin world that this is a pretty choice place to build a nest," says David Mules from DOC.

DOC volunteers are patrolling the beach keeping the penguins safe and the tourists happy.

"Its amazing, I didn't think you'd be able to get this close at all," says tourist Sheena and Johnny Weeper.

It is the proximity to the wildlife that draws around 25,000 tourists a year.

"A lot of them have got little cameras and they want a good shot. Unfortunately, they haven't got a good zoom on them so, they like to get as close as possible," says volunteer Graeme Boyes

Getting too close is a problem and that is when volunteers step in to spell out proper penguin etiquette.

DOC says most visitors read the signs and follow the rules.

But penguins are not the only species on the beach that need protecting.

While noticeably larger in size, DOC has also had to stop tourists from taunting the sea lions who also call the beach home.

"Human attitude towards wildlife has to be one of respect otherwise you're going to end up with a world which is depleted of some of the treasures which we now enjoy," says Boyes

It is hoped what is learnt at Sandfly Bay can be passed on to other wildlife habitats around New Zealand.


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