Herekopare weta or Foveaux weta – the smallest of the “giant weta” – are currently restricted to three islands. Two of the islands, including Herekopare Island, are in private ownership and getting access is difficult. Weka, a known predator, are present. The third island is the small 12 ha Tihaka, where weka and black backed gulls have been removed, but the population is vulnerable to fire and other random catastrophes. This massive cricket is certainly threatened but its exact status is not known. The recovery plan calls for new populations to be established.
Ros Cole and her team from DOC collected 34 weta from Tihaka in March 2009, mostly from under logs just above storm tide line. Many of the weta appeared to be in pairs and the transfer was timed for the early stages of mating. After disease screening they were packaged up for the short helicopter ride to Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, site of one of our mohua translocations and of course home to the kakapo. The release site was provided with weta “hotels” for cover.
In July the site was checked and 16 were found in the weta hotels. Disturbance was kept to a minimum and the next check was due in 2011 to see if juvenile weta were present.
Ros coordinated the transfer so helicopter time could be shared with other projects, and funding by Fauna Recovery New Zealand amounted to $2,500.