The Hill family backs local conservation group

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Posted 29 January, 2024
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Southern Lakes Sanctuary Whakatipu Hub coordinator Bonnie Wilkins, philanthropist Sir Michael Hill and Southern Lakes Sanctuary project manager Paul Kavanagh

The Hill family has donated $90,000 to support the preservation of native wildlife and biodiversity in the region.

Prominent businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Hill and his family made the donation to conservation organisation Southern Lakes Sanctuary to fund 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 “It is fantastic to be supporting a project and organisation that is making such dramatic progress to enhance our natural environment. 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.”

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.

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.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary project director Paul Kavanagh says “The potential these traps have for large-scale improvements to our natural environment is phenomenal.

“Whilst the set-up costs for this very effective trapping method is relatively high, the ongoing maintenance and servicing 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.”

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.


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