PRESS RELEASE: Southern Discoveries
A movement to protect some of New Zealand’s most precious native species has been given another vital boost with Southern Discoveries renewing its sponsorship of the Sinbad Sanctuary Project.
The new three-year extension of the tourism company’s commitment to the cause brings its total donations to $330,000, enabling further conservation work in what is a very special part of the country.
Located in the UNESCO World Heritage area that is Fiordland National Park, the Sinbad Sanctuary Project was established in 2009 as a means of protecting the unique Sinbad Gully environment next to Milford Sound’s iconic Mitre Peak.
Southern Discoveries, which operates cruises in Queenstown and Milford Sound, is the principal sponsor of the campaign to preserve what is home to a number of threatened native bird and lizard species, donating $30,000 per year to the project since it began.
CEO Tim Hunter says these conservation efforts are integral to Southern Discoveries business plan.
“As Milford Sound’s original cruise operator, our business is founded on the unique and natural environments that we share with visitors from around the world,” he says.
“Contributing to the sustainability of, and protecting the species within the unique environments we operate is core to Southern Discoveries vision and values, and the Sinbad Sanctuary Project is an important part of our long-term business strategy.”
The Sinbad Sanctuary Project, which is a partnership between the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation, aims to enhance the ecological values of the area with the long-term aim of reintroducing species that are no longer present.
Native species currently found in Sinbad Gully include tokoeka/kiwi, whio/blue duck, weka, kākā, kea and rock wren, as well as three species of threatened lizard: the Sinbad skink, Cascade gecko and cryptic skink.
This is thought to be the most diverse community of reptile species in Fiordland and one of the most specious alpine lizard communities in the world. Sinbad Gully is also one of the last places where kākāpō were found in their natural habitat, making the owl parrot an obvious candidate for translocation when the area is pest free.
The programme aims to reduce predators through stoat trapping and possum and rodent control. Species outcome monitoring is also undertaken to ensure that the predator-control regime is sufficient.
Chairman of the Fiordland Conservation Trust Kim Hollows is of the view that Southern Discoveries are “stand out” sponsors and from the outset have proven themselves to be the right sponsor for this project.
“As exclusive sponsors, who have invested heavily in conservation in an area in which they operate, we have a great deal of admiration for their commitment and the basis on which they operate. This has been a terrific partnership,” he says.
In addition to donating funds to this important conservation programme, Southern Discoveries staff provide support to the Department of Conservation with implementing surveys and servicing trap lines, and executive management support the Fiordland Conservation Trust with planning and governance.
Southern Discoveries also gives customers an opportunity to donate to the project on its website. Further details can be found at southerndiscoveries.co.nz.