New Zealanders are deeply connected to their land, and the menagerie of peculiar critters that have evolved on the nation’s hundreds of islands. But in recent years, Kiwis, as residents call themselves, have watched with dismay as their country has become ground zero of Earth’s extinction crisis. With fierce determination, however, they have also become the tip of the spear in fighting it.
Home to one of the highest proportions of threatened species in the world, New Zealand’s wildlife is in a state of crisis. The first global analysis of established alien species, published Monday, ranked New Zealand, along with Hawaii and Indonesia, as one of the globe’s three hotspot regions for invasive species. With nearly a third of the country’s endemic species at risk, including its talismanic kiwi bird, the nation has taken on a seemingly insurmountable challenge: total elimination of three invasive predators from its two main islands by the year 2050. The endeavor has earned the moniker “New Zealand’s Apollo program.” Click on the following quote to access the story.