Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Truly a land like no other!
Last night I was invited to the opening of an interactive centre at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, just outside downtown Wellington. The sanctuary is about 225 hectares (approx 1 square mile) of land that has been literally cut off from the rest of the world. Their mission is “to restore a corner of New Zealand as closely as possible to the way it was the day before humans arrived”; quite a feat considering the number of invasive species that have completely decimated parts of this country’s vulnerable wildlife. So many of its birds and reptiles are now extinct due to the introduction of these species (ie. All things fluffy and mammalian). New Zealand is such a unique ecosystem in that it is so far removed from everything and the majority of its wildlife is endemic (unique to NZ). Two thirds of all fish in NZ waters, for instance, are endemic to NZ as are the majority of bird species. Prior to the introduction of invasive species, these islands were known as a paradise for birds. They ruled the roost – literally! Because of this isolation, however, many animals had little to no defense mechanisms to protect themselves from four-legged critters. Many birds here are flightless (including the kiwi bird) and as a result, when rats and ferrets reached NZ territory, they seriously threatened these animals’ populations by killing them, their young, and consuming and destroying vital resources such as food and habitats.
Some of the work WWF-NZ is doing in this nook of the world focuses on pest eradication – a totally different strategy than that taken in Canada (where “eradicating” anything brings uproars from the likes of animal rights groups and Pamela Anderson). But let’s face it, our two countries face very different problems, many based on very different causes. The sanctuary hopes to demonstrate to the rest of New Zealand that a balanced ecosystem can be achieved once again if we work together to help protect the native species and ensure a future where kiwis can live in harmony with kiwis.
Now. Back to work. Today I had a status meeting with the Marketing Manager and we decided to take it to a local coffee shop instead of our meeting room. Went to a café called Ernesto’s in downtown Welli and I can honestly say that I have never had coffee like that! You may not know this but New Zealand is known for its legendary coffee. It’s definitely quality over quantity here; a nice break from the North American theory that size matters. They raise their noses at Starbucks’ Venti coffees which are mostly hot water with a shot of something that resembles an espresso. After sipping on Ernestos “flat white coffee with soy milk”, I feel as though until this day I was blind and now I see (at least in terms of my coffee experience). The food is just as good with options like free range eggs poached (from Bob the farmer, down the road) on gluten free toast with organic tomatoes and spinach. Or a BLT made with local NZ bacon on a fresh baguette baked in-house… Is your mouth watering yet…?!
Oh ya – the meeting. Right. The meeting was actually really interesting. We talked about some upcoming projects that we’re going to be managing the marketing and publicity for. One project that intrigued me is a Maui’s dolphin sighting competition for surfers. It's going to be promoted online and via some other publicity channels. Since Maui's often ride the same waves that surfers do, WWF wants to use them for some on-the-ground tracking and research. These findings will then be utilized to lobby government to increase the size of New Zealand’s Marine Protected Areas. Very cool!