By Mick Jensen
The Fantail Trust has been set up with the aim of making an area of the Rakaia Gorge predator-free by 2050.
The trust has been set up by local residents Christine and Robert Koller who are keen to establish a native bird and plant sanctuary on the true left side of the Rakaia River in order to encourage repopulation and the protection of native birds, animals and plants.
The couple, who run Quickenberry Guesthouse at Terrace Downs, have already laid four traps on private farm land near the popular Rakaia Gorge Walkway.
A recent email drop to friends and guests has also received a positive response and yielded five more traps.
Mr Koller said the traps were well-designed and efficient, and targeted possums, stoats and rats.
“We use GoodNature traps, Timm’s traps and the DOC traps for stoats and rats.
“We try not to use poison such as cyanide, fluoroacetate or brodifacoum.”
He said the project would take a number of years, and would keep the couple busy in retirement, but it needed community input and support as well.
“It is an exciting project and hopefully some day in the future we have birds like the bellbird, tui and kereru thriving again in the gorge.
“The walkway area is an amazing place with a huge variety of native plants still growing, but it needs our help to become a little paradise on our doorstep.”
With more bird life, more planting was also needed to feed the birds, he said.
“Neighbours at Washpen Falls have run a similar conservation project for a number of years, and the sound of bird song there can be heard as soon as you get out of the car.”
The public can become members of the Fantail Trust by giving a small donation of $10, or can sponsor a GoodNature trap for $185.
The first 200 donations will go into a draw with a prize of dinner, bed and breakfast at Quickenberry.