Fuseworks Media

‘The Hill family backs local conservation group to help with pest control’

The Hill family is one of the latest Queenstown locals to support the preservation of native wildlife and biodiversity in the Southern Lakes.

Prominent businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Hill and his family have donated an initial $90,000 to conservation organisation Southern Lakes Sanctuary to support the installation of 60 additional high-tech predator-control traps. The new AT220 predator traps with AI camera and remote monitoring systems at Bush Creek, Arrowtown, will be deployed this summer.

The donation also includes AI-enabling upgrades to 25 existing AT220 traps in the Bush Creek catchment area – and these traps have already killed 3000 possums since they were installed.

Hill says he and his family are thrilled to be able to contribute to a local conservation project that combines hard work with advances in technology.

“It is fantastic to be supporting a project and organisation that is making such dramatic progress to enhance our natural environment,” he says. “To hear that the NZ-made traps we have supported, have so far removed more than 3000 possums from a small area near Arrowtown is significant, and we look forward to helping the Southern Lakes Sanctuary continue this incredible work for years to come.”

As part of their ongoing commitment, the Hill family has also made their golf course available to Southern Lakes Sanctuary to host a fundraising golf day at The Hills on April 22, 2024. More details about this event will be available in the coming weeks.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary is one of NZ’s largest conservation organisations, a consortium of six groups working to increase biodiversity, control predators and protect the native species of the Southern Lakes.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary project director Paul Kavanagh says the team is grateful to the Hill family for their contribution.

“Without the generous support of the Hill family the scale of the trapping network and the outcomes we have achieved would not have been possible,” he says. “With the removal of so many possums and rats from the Bush Creek area, along with the expanding network on the face of Coronet Peak, we know that the future for native trees and wildlife is a whole lot brighter.”

The hope for Predator Free 2050 is inextricably linked to technological advances and Southern Lakes Sanctuary has become experts in the effective deployment of automatic traps.

“The potential these traps have for large-scale improvements to our natural environment is phenomenal,” Kavanagh adds. “Whilst the set-up costs for this very effective trapping method is relatively high, the ongoing maintenance and servicing of these traps is very low, so over the life of the trap the returns on investment are far superior to traditional traps and far more effective.”

Initially supported by the NZ Government’s Jobs for Nature programme – which faces a funding cliff in June – Southern Lakes Sanctuary are seeking $1.5 million annually to sustain its crucial conservation work.

“We have many more areas that we can work on around the Whakatipu and Wānaka where the suppression of rats and possums will make a huge difference to the survival of our native species,” Kavanagh adds. “We welcome other supporters embracing the cause as well – there is still so much important work to be done in saving our native taonga.”


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