Saving species—from Africa to Zealandia

With a growing number of species across the globe on the brink of extinction, Victoria University of Wellington researchers are exploring how science can help save them.

In a free public talk next week, three researchers from Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences will discuss how the same scientific principles applied to the conservation of New Zealand’s flora and fauna is helping to save species like Africa’s critically endangered rhino.

Dr Wayne Linklater, director of Victoria’s Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, will discuss the challenges of saving Africa rhino in an environment of increasing violence and urgency.

“Last year over a thousand rhino were slaughtered for their horns—a resurgence in the killing threatening to reverse two decades of conservation gains,” says Dr Linklater.

Dr Linklater will explain how science has informed and refined rhino rescue over the last decade, and discuss the future of rhino conservation.

Associate Professor Nicola Nelson has been engaged in research to conserve the iconic Tuatara for the past decade, and says New Zealand’s native reptiles are as diverse as our native birds, but receive far less conservation attention.

“Lizard conservation cannot rely on the umbrella of efforts to conserve birds, or on keeping islands free of introduced mammalian predators, but will rely on our own individual efforts in our local patches.”

Professor Phil Lester will discuss the marching, munching and marauding invasive ants and wasps that threaten our native flora and fauna.

“Invasive species are a leading cause of biodiversity loss and can cause considerable problems for those who live alongside them,” says Professor Lester. “My research is focused on social insects, such as ants and wasps, and developing new tools and approaches for invasive insect control.”

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with national conservation experts and advocates, who will address species conservation beyond species rescue, and consider the issues of taonga and biodiversity.