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  • Writer's pictureRose Parsons

The long tailed bats of d’Urville Island

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Here is something to strike up at your next dinner party, baby bats attach themselves to their flying mothers by sucking onto their nipples. Well I always wondered, surely they were not just home alone with nasty old Mr Stoat around.

D’Urville Island or more correctly Rangitoto Ke Ti Tonga is a haven for the nationally critical (next stop extinction) long tailed bat. Recent monitoring of bat populations led by volunteers such as Dr Brian Lloyd and Debs Martin have revealed that bat once prevalent in New Zealand’s skies at night have now retreated to dwindling bush enclaves. However it was heartening for the advocates for our native bats to find that d’Urville Island still harboured promising populations.

Some of the factors that makes this island unique is the absence of introduced opossums and ship rats that arrived with early and subsequent Europeans. The local native rat, Kiore is present but is less aggressive.

However growing numbers of introduced wasps are not a good indicator for the bats. Research shows that bats rely heavily on the naturally occurring honey dew which is emitted by the honey dew lava living in the bark of beech trees. Unfortunately so do the wasps. This fierce competition for food source is bound to have an impact on already declining bat numbers according to Dr Brian Lloyd.

The bat’s predator the stoat is also present on the island, a community led project the D’Urville Island Pest Eradication Trust has been established to start tackling this thorny problem. It takes time to get all of the community and various stake holders onto the same page and develop a sustainable management plan for such a remote and unpopulated island.

Driftwood Eco Tours supports the DISET by donating $300 for every small group tour it operates there. Tour members have the opportunity to meet Pip Aplin from the trust who uses maps and diagrams to illustrate the problem and describe proposed solutions.

If  you would like to make a donation or volunteer to help the bats contact us and we will put you in touch with the right people.

If you are interested in coming on a tour to D’Urville Island click here

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