LAST PLANET - Wildlife conservation, nature and environment

  1. Rare and threatened species are often a challenge to take care of but when they're only known from a single location (so known as a point endemic), and when that site happens to be high up on a rock wall in an alpine mountain range then the job gets significantly harder.

    Fortunately managing the threatened species and ecosystem processes of the Sinbad Gully, which stretches off to the west from the popular tourist site at Milford Sound is a job that now has vital support form the local community and business such as Southern Discoveries and the Fiordland Conservation Trust.

    Despite this support the skinks are still in serious need of our help. Access to the site is expensive and requires helicopter time if we're needing to take in supplies. Once in the alpine cirque, the issues that challenge conservation of the skinks are by no means easily solved. Whilst we now have some effective tools for the landscape scale management of rats, stoats and possum in lowland forest systems we are only just beginning to understand the pest dynamics that drive the threats to our unique alpine species and ecology. The biggest challenge being that we are starting to realize that the humble mouse, introduced to New Zealand by Europeans, may be the biggest driver of pest impacts above the bushline and so far, we have no sustainable methods to control their populations in low altitude easily managed sites much less these high alpine environments.

    This is a huge challenge for conservationists in New Zealand, but a vital issue for us to tackle to manage these unique and precious places and species. To learn more or help support us follow these links:

    Filmed in haste on a little Canon s100, February 2013.
    Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 7.0.
    No colour correction or further post production
    Music by kind permission Waylon Thornton
    Supporting caste and crew: the sandflies of northern Fiordland

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  2. This is a piece of cameratrap footage collected on Table Hill in the south of Rakiura/Stewart Island of the introduced white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) predating a southern NZ dotterel nest (Charadrius o. obscurus). The southern sub-species of the NZ dotterel is critically endangered with extinction, numbering less than 300 birds. An extensive cat and rat control programme exists to protect their nesting grounds and the population recovered well from ~60 birds in the early 90s to over 260 by the mid-2000s. However the population appears to have plateaued. Could invasive species such as the white tailed deer be playing a role in this? Hopefully our research will reveal the facts.

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  3. We all care about something. In today's world what you care about is often assumed to define the parameters of your existence and expanding those parameters is the only option for a better future. Taking responsibility and becoming a custodian for the values and elements of life that seem precious is the ultimate expression of those cares.

    Just a little experiment, testing out a different way of shooting and telling a story.

    Many thanks to Paul and Hoki for their patience and hospitality. Music courtesy of Sputnik and Lee Rosevere.

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  4. Conservation often focuses on the big and the beautiful in an effort to secure those precious dollars for conservation management. It's often assumed that people just won't want to support a project to protect a small brown lizard, no matter how endangered. I disagree, as conservationists we just need to work a little harder at telling the stories of even our least glamorous endangered species. As a herpetologist of course, I need no convincing. We can celebrate the eradication of cats and kiore from the hugely significant Hauturu/Little Barrier Island as the two single acts that ensure the future of this otherwise threatened skink. One day I'm sure that Great Barrier Islands will be pest free too, and when it is, these gorgeous skinks will recover to the common and abundant species they ought to be there too.

    Copyright James Reardon and Last Planet Ltd. 2013

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  5. No encounter with wildlife is without some effect on most of us, but having the opportunity to meet animals that are both shy, elusive, and a little bit dangerous, on their own terms is a special privilege indeed.

    The dwarf cassowary (Casuarius bennetti) of New Guinea is a near threatened species of large ratite, so the same family as the ostrich of Africa, rhea of South America, emu of Australia and little kiwi of New Zealand. Standing at a little over a meter at the shoulder these are birds that genuinely look you in the eye, and whilst they are a widely hunted species across New Guinea, their powerful legs equipped with a long defensive claw means they're quite able to defend themselves from potential predators, meaning man. Just look at them: they're dinosaur feet.

    Meeting one is, as I keep saying, like meeting a small dinosaur and an experience that will stay with me. They're also critical to forest health performing a function that no other species can achieve. Without cassowary, the forests of New Guinea would not be as they are. I hope you enjoy this little sequence of footage, which will eventually become part of a larger project for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the people of Ikundi in PNG.

    Support the (extremely challenging) conservation efforts to secure the future for cassowary and other threatened species in PNG at:

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LAST PLANET - Wildlife conservation, nature and environment

James Reardon

Our planet is a remarkable & inspiring place. The intricacies of the natural world & our interactions with it are the stories of our past & the options for our future. I'll try & offer some short films detailing the remarkable wildlife & issues of nature…

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Our planet is a remarkable & inspiring place. The intricacies of the natural world & our interactions with it are the stories of our past & the options for our future. I'll try & offer some short films detailing the remarkable wildlife & issues of nature conservation detailed at

I'd be delighted by any feedback on how to improve the content or style as both slowly take shape.
Many thanks, James
Te Anau, 20th July 2013

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