Saturday, October 10, 2009

Penguin health principal issue

Penguin health principal issue

By David Bruce on Sat, 10 Oct 2009
Moeraki | The Regions: North Otago

"I wish the penguins would do what I tell them - stay away from sharks, breed faster and look after themselves," she said.

Mrs Goldsworthy owns and lives in the Moeraki lighthouse and home and is manager of the Katiki Point Penguin Charitable Trust, which won the supreme award in the annual TrustPower Waihemo community awards.

The trust looks after penguins, especially yellow-eyed penguins, on habitat along the Moeraki Peninsula.

The trust was established by Janice and Bob Jones in 2001 and is chaired by Walter Kiener, of Moeraki.

It has been highly successful, which she puts down to the strength of its volunteer organisation.

About 15 volunteers are involved on a regular basis, but are helped by overseas visitors who come and stay at the lighthouse and help care for the penguins.

The secondary school she was at had a wild bird colony and, over a period of eight years, cared for more than 4000 birds.

She was experienced in caring for birds and heard from a friend who had visited the Moeraki Lighthouse colony that Mrs Jones wanted to retire from her role.

The job of caring for the penguins' habitat and the birds themselves passed to her.

The TrustPower award recognises the work of the trust and particularly its volunteers.

It costs about $15,000 a year to run the trust, the bulk of funds coming from donations from visitors and sponsorship from businesses.

The penguins attract about 20,000 international and national visitors a year.

The area now provides a safe haven for more than 70% of North Otago's yellow-eyed penguins.

Last financial year, 93 sick and injured penguins were cared for in the hospital at the Moeraki lighthouse, 90% of those making a full recovery.

Of the 93 penguins in care, 89 were yellow-eyed penguins.

There was one white-flippered penguin, two blues and an erect-crested penguin in care.

The wire enclosure around the lighthouse is used as a compound for recovering penguins, while there is a hospital on land surrounding the former lighthouse caretaker's house.

Nest numbers have grown from 10 in 2002 to 30 last season, and continue to rise.

Volunteers carry out a wide range of tasks as their training and understanding of the penguins improves.

For example, a new volunteer would start off working on tracks and creating habitat through to building nesting boxes, trapping predators, managing visitors, maintaining signs and moving on to help care for injured or sick penguins.

Wild cats and ferrets make up the bulk of predators.

More details of the work of the trust can be found on the website,


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