Three day old kiwi found on Ponui Island. Photo by Ruby Mackenzie

Calling all kiwi: New technology tracks an icon

Three day old North Island brown kiwi chick on Ponui Island. Photo by Ruby Mackenzie A load shrill call interrupts the night, breaking the silence of the island. It’s not unwelcome, after all its why i’m here. This call belongs to none other than that New Zealand icon, the kiwi….

The astonishing fungus versus the super survivor thistle

Thistles are nasty weeds on farms around the world, including New Zealand farms and the Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense) is the worst of the bunch. It’s such a nuisance that, much like the month-old yogurt pottle languishing at the back of the work fridge, nobody wants to associate themselves with…

Guts and genes – the key to possum eradication?

If you had told 10-year-old me that I would grow up to study the best way to kill animals, I would never have believed you. I loved animals then, and I still do. However, we live in New Zealand, a country with some of the most unique and spectacular flora…

Extreme Makeover: Wētā Motel Edition

Think of a motel. A bright neon sign flashing “VACANCY”. A building with lots of rooms. A large car park probably. These images jump into your mind. However, for many insects, birds and lizards the reality is a lot different. To them, a motel is a place to sleep for…

Yellow or purple? Colour choices of insects at the beach

When you think of the beach, what comes to mind? Do you think about basking in the sun, feeling the granules of golden sand underneath your toes, taking a refreshing dip in the blue, salty water with the waves crashing around you? To think of the plant life which thrives…

Shelob, shorelines and sandy spiders

Anoteropsis litoralis, a wolf spider found in seashore stormwrack. Image from Bryce McQuillan (contact him for using his images) One has to wonder whether Tolkien had a fear of spiders. From Shelob in the Rings trilogy, to Ungoliant in the Simarillion, to the giant spiders of Mirkwood, spiders are feared…

How to stop, the elephant in your crop

Elephants have long fascinated me. I think it goes back to tv series from the early/mid 1970s called ‘Elephant Boy‘. This was a Australian/ English/ German production that was filmed in Sri Lanka and loosely based on the book ‘Toomai, the elephant boy‘ by Rudyard Kipling. I don’t remember a…

Playing favourites – using calls to save the kokako from extinction

Moving to a new city can be a stressful yet exciting situation. Whether you move for a job, to learn a new language or just to get a fresh new start, you are facing a life-changing experience. For wildlife, moving permanently from one location to another can be a life-saving…

Raising chicks: Why invest, when there is no test?

Although house chores are usually shared among those living together, the concept of women being responsible for a tidy house and everybody’s full tummies is still present in our societies. The same applies to raising children, as women are often, once again, expected to invest more time with their kids…

Plane and simple: your travel is ruining the planet

The glaciers are melting; polar bears are starving; and many small islands are slowly drowning. “Quickly book this flight to Iceland before the snow disappears completely, you don’t want to miss out on the beautiful glaciers there”, a voice whispers in my ear. “You are selfish”, another voice comes to…