Māia’s 2 Million – Episode One

Tomorrow is the start of Save the Kiwi week, we have decided to use the week to launch our 20th Anniversary Celebrations fundraising campaign, the boards goal is to raise $20,000 in donations this year. None of this money goes to supporting a national office, it is all spent right here in Taranaki by the organisation on kiwi projects. Meet Māia Gibbs, thanks to Predator Free NZ she is our new apprentice Kiwi Habitat Protection Ranger and she is the face of our fundraising campaign called Māia’s 2 Million. We set Māia the goal of doing 2 million steps this year, 2 million steps that will all contribute towards saving kiwi in Taranaki. Māia will keep us updated every month about her conservation journey, the highs, the lows and of course the steps recorded on her new fitbit.Here is the first installment.

As an eighteen year old, with a few years of beekeeping experience under my belt, I headed off on a big adventure to Northern BC, Canada to help look after a small apiarist operation. Within the first couple weeks of being there, Trevor my boss and I headed out to the farm to drop off a load of hives to an already existing bee site. In Canada for safety reasons all of the beehive sites must be protected by high barbed wire and electric fences, this was to protect them from black bears. I hadn’t thought too hard about bears, mostly because I didn’t think they were that common, I certainly didn’t expect a close encounter with one! We pulled up and the entire site had its fences ripped down, the door pulled from its hinges, all the hives had been torn apart, with teeth and claw marks in the plastic honey and brood frames, and everything spread out all over the ground …………. not a bee in sight. This freaked me out a little.

Black bears are not endangered, and not really considered dangerous, but over a hundred attacks are recorded annually, deaths are rare but Canada boasts the highest incidence. A license is required to shoot them and the Canadian Conservation euthanizes bears that come into towns or are a threat to humans, resulting in 100’s being culled each year.

We returned later to clean up the rubbish, as I was stropping the last of it down on the trailer, Trevor yelled out for me to duck down, less than 30m behind me was a black bear creeping up on me! He shot this bear and it tumbled down the hill and ran off into the forest. I reckon my heart rate was the highest it will ever be, lugging traps will be a doddle in comparison, we tracked the blood trail through the trees to ensure it was dead so it didn’t suffer which was most disconcerting. Although I didn’t get to bring it home, I got the skull cleaned up as a memory for such a thrilling adventure. You can donate to Māia’s 2 Million Give a Little page to support kiwi conservation in Taranaki here https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/taranakikiwi

Maia Gibbs Bear Skull
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