Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Auora School Visit to Lake Rotokare- Tracking Tunnels and Peripatus Hunting

Today I got to show some students, teachers, parents and BOT members from Auroa School what I have been up to for the last few months when they came to give me a hand out at Lake Rotokare Reserve. 

This week was going to be pretty full on, with 1500 tracking cards to be put out across the sanctuary and more peripatus hunting to do (check out my previous posts, 'Peripatus Found' and 'Peripatus Planning' for more info), so I decided to recruit some extra help. 

The purpose of the trip was for students to to gain an experience of the work that rangers and scientists do in conservation, to volunteer time to help a conservation organisation, to learn about ways which scientists work and provide evidence to support their ideas, and to learn about native New Zealand animals and the effect of introduced species, and what we can do to help.

Map of the Cattlestop Block where we were putting out the tracking cards. The kids did a great job of following the map, didn't lose a single child!

In the first part of the day, students followed a procedure to place tracking cards around the reserve. It is important to label the cards with their location and date, so if there is an incursion with a rodent or mustelid, we know the area to search/ trap. Every tracking card is baited with peanut butter, and every second with rabbit meat. There were some tricky areas of bush to navigate, slopes to climb and streams to cross. 
Jorja laying the tracking tunnel cards

The Auroa kids were such a fantastic help with this and took all the challenges in their stride. Some students have even asked to volunteer bringing in the cards over their holidays! 

Hunting for Peripatus 

After lunch we set out to look for some peripatus as part of the peripatus study I am undertaking while at Rotkare. We walked for about 20 minutes till we came to 2 quadrats in the bush. Before we started, we took note of the weather, vegetation, humidity, soil temperature and air temperature, so we can better understand the preferred peripatus habitat. We discussed the fact that we might find peripatus, or we might not, but that the information we gather is still useful. The students found lots of interesting things in the logs and leaf litter, and we had some great discussions identifying invertebrates.

A pair of unbanded robins also took great interest in us while we were searching. I wonder why!

Finally, I heard a shriek from one of the quadrats where they had come across a peripatus, deep inside a log. Brendon, Riley's dad thought it was a slug at first and nearly discarded it! The kids were excited to finally see what they had been looking for for and hour. We spent time to observe the peripatus, its features and movements before returning it to the bush. The data we collected will contribute to my study of peripatus habitat and species at Rotokare. Thank you so much kids, parents Auroa teachers, and STLP teachers for all your help, I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did!.

Kids I'd love to see your blogs about what you learned from the trip. Put your links in the comments. 


  1. Here is my blog. I hope you don't mind me using some of the photos you had taken. They were amazing


  2. Thank you for organising this day out, it was lots of fun and we really enjoyed it. It was fun looking for the Peripatus and checking out all the cool bugs. We went back to the reserve and checked on our tracking tunnels and there were mouse prints!

    Thank you very much, From Teague.


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