Babysitting is the next generation of New Zealand’s dead sea lions

(CNN) – Like many young people, 17 -year -old Hannah Yeardley, who lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, cares for children in her spare time. The only difference was that the children she cared for were not the baby lions.

From December to February, during childbirth and even when newborns are in their greatest trouble, Yeardley travels to the white sands of Long Beach on her weekends and school holidays, to check out and looking for sea lion families that nest in that area. She is a donor to the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust, an organization that works to prevent species.

Around the Otago peninsula on the southern island of Aotearoa, sea lions live on the cheek with their human neighbors. Residents come in as “nurses” to help take good care of newborn dogs.

Zoe is her favorite sea lion, a woman her age, with a black patch around the eyes and a kind of unique scallop in her trash.

“He was 17,” said Yeardley, whose birthday is in March. “It’s great to see her every year, going with her on that trip, (watching her) with the pups.”

The Otago Peninsula is the busiest year for sea lions, a stretch of land stretching from Dunedin to the Pacific Ocean and home to a large number of sea lions. in the mainland of New Zealand, according to the Department of Lands. of the Police. Twenty -one dogs were born, which was the best breeding season for all kinds of pests in nearly 200 years.

Sea lions are returning to mainland New Zealand after being hunted down and almost extinct.

Sea lions are returning to mainland New Zealand after being hunted down and almost extinct.

PAUL ELLIS / AFP on photo shoots

Breeder Hannah Yeardley believes taking care of New Zealand's sea lions can help the population grow.

Breeder Hannah Yeardley believes taking care of New Zealand’s sea lions can help the population grow.

Caitlin McGee / CNN

Sea lions thrived on New Zealand’s beaches until hunting, which began in the early 19th century and continued into the mid -20th century. south on sub-Antarctic islands, such as Auckland Island and Campbell Island, where most births are held today.

Then, in the early 1990s, one woman returned to the mainland and gave birth to a pup on St Clair’s beach. She was nicknamed “Mum” and was pictured proudly sitting on the esplanade above St Clair.

“This single woman is responsible for bringing back the population of sea lions in Otago,” said Jim Fyfe, biologist for the Otago beach area of ​​the New Zealand Department of Defense.

Luckily, Mom’s first three pups were females, which started the population well, Fyfe said. “In 2000 we had two or three pups, then in 2010, six or eight pups were born, and in recent years we have had 18 to 20. Like “We seem to be in that small area. An exponential curve below the population growth curve,” he said.

But sea lions have returned to a very different place 200 years ago – roads, cars, trucks, people, dogs and all sorts of other dangers are now thriving on the land. This poses a serious problem in maintaining the health and happiness of the public.

Sea lions are stinking neighbors

Seek refuge from adult male lions – grief up to 450 kilograms in size and have been known to trample pups in search of mates – mothers often go ashore in the nest, but this only exposes them to human threats.

They have been seen moving around in courtyards, dog kennels, outdoor huts and an indoor golf course, Fyfe said, sometimes to the detriment of human neighbors. He remembers a young woman who lived for about three months sleeping under a roof, until her owners were fed up and evicted her because “the house stinked.”

“Their usual routine at night is to come at two o’clock in the morning and mooing for their pups can make them a stimulant companion,” she says.

But because of their bad deeds, the sea lions are the ones to die. This year, a three -month -old baby lion was struck and killed by a car on a road on the Otago Peninsula, and driveways were soon spotted next to a famous “nursery” where many lived. the mother lions and their cubs.

The Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust, with its team of “shepherds” such as Yeardley, will try to control these threats. Organizations take care of women and their dogs, secure where they sleep, and put up signs telling passersby to ask that all dogs be taken care of. Sometimes, if sea lions choose to hide in a visible area, Fyfe and his team will create a simple shelter to help protect the pups, and last year, they shut down. on the road in Dunedin for a month to care for the sea lion family.

“The birth cycle is an important place for (sea lions),” Fyfe said. “We ask for people’s patience, it’s not uncommon.”

But as the number of sea lions continues to grow, this personal service will likely diminish. But Fyfe hopes the technology will pay off. He participated in a research project, published last year, that uses algorithm-based models and GIS mapping to identify a critical location and can help police officers be establish areas for protection.

“They won’t really bite you”

Finally, one of the easiest ways to prevent sea lions from becoming a threat is to teach people how to respond to them.

“If people get too close to sea lions when they’re active, sea lions have a bluff charge … and people turn on their ankles and run,” Fyfe said. “Running is a crime. They don’t really bite you – 99 times out of 100 they will stop and kiss you. So just try and stay calm and always get out of there.”

Fyfe hopes that when locals get used to sea lions living on their beaches and in their homes, they will learn to live together. “People don’t have to be afraid, they’re not serious animals,” he said. “It’s more fun and exciting.”

Fortunately, it is not difficult to increase knowledge and interest in the animal. “They’re their best marketing tool, (because) overall, they’re very beautiful,” he said.

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