New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2023) 47(1): 3561

Conservation translocations of fauna in Aotearoa New Zealand: a review

Review Article
Kevin A. Parker 1*
John G. Ewen 2
John Innes 3
Emily L. Weiser 4
Aisling Rayne 5
Tammy E. Steeves 5
Philip J. Seddon 4
Lynn Adams 6
Natalie Forsdick 5
Matt Maitland 7
Troy Makan 6
Denise Martini 4
Elizabeth Parlato 8
Kate Richardson 9
Zoe Stone 8
Doug P. Armstrong 8
  1. Parker Conservation Ltd, 3 Sowman Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
  2. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London, UK
  3. Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
  4. University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  5. University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
  6. Department of Conservation, PO Box 10420, Wellington 6243, New Zealand
  7. Auckland Council, Private Bag 92300, Victoria Street West, Auckland, New Zealand
  8. Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
  9. Waikato Regional Council, Private Bag 3038, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

There have been numerous declines and extinctions of native fauna in Aotearoa New Zealand since human settlement. Against this background of loss there have been remarkable advances in conservation management, including the use of conservation translocations to reduce extinction risk and restore depauperate ecosystems. Here we review conservation translocations in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our review assembles knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand’s rich history of faunal translocations and describes six key considerations for successfully establishing translocated populations: (1) What values will be met by a translocation? (2) What is the natural and conservation history of the translocation candidate? (3) Does the release site habitat match that of the proposed source population, and if not, why is the release site considered appropriate and can management ameliorate differences? (4) Will dispersal be a problem? (5) Will genetic management be required and how realistic is it that this management will be implemented? (6) What do future developments mean for the management of translocated populations? We discourage a focus on any single element of translocation planning but rather encourage all people involved in translocations, particularly decision makers, to explicitly recognise that successful translocations typically have multiple, values-based objectives. We also support recommendations that the principles of good translocation decision-making are embedded in government policy.