Follow the Endangered Species Foundation's journey in setting up a conservation fund for New Zealand's rarest of the rare - critically endangered fauna and flora on the brink of extinction. The future of New Zealand's most vulnerable is uncertain - nearly 4,000 indigenous species are in danger of being lost. We we have a chance to pledge our commitment and support to protect our extraordinary species and unique habitats, now and into the future. We are committed to preserving the rarest of the rare, by funding results orientated conservation projects, with the support of New Zealanders like you.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sunday, 19 June 2016

NZ's Ten Most Endangered Species

1. Maui's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hector maui)
2. Canterbury knobbled weevil (Hadramphus tuberculatus)
3. Mokohinau stag beetle (Geodorcus ithaginis)
4. Quillwort (Isoetes aff. kirkii)
5. New Zealand fairy tern (Sternula nereis davisae)
6. Limestone cress (Pachycladon exilis)
7. Chesterfield skink (Oligosoma aff. infrapunctatum)
8. Coastal pepper cress (Lepidium banks)
9. Eyelash seaweed (Dione arcuata)
10. Dune swale daphne (Pimelea act)

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Dunedin Climate Could Be Key To Survival Of Nelson's Endangered Coastal Peppercress

Dunedin’s notorious weather may hold the key to the survival of Nelson’s coastal peppercress (Lepidium banksii). Seedlings of this critically endangered species are being grown in a cooler climate at Dunedin Botanic Garden’s new propagation facility, in an innovative approach to safeguard the species from extinction.
Dunedin ecologist, Dr Mike Thorsen, organised the conservation programme on behalf of the recently launched Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand (ESFNZ), and is also growing some of the plants. He believes the species should grow well in the absence of the pests and diseases that ravage its remaining natural populations.

A wild coastal peppercress plant on the Nelson coast (Photo: Department of Conservation).
“Coastal peppercress is a hardy plant adapted to the tough north-west Nelson coastal environment. But it has proved vulnerable to a large number of exotic pests and diseases: diamond back moth, pigs, several species of weeds, white rust, white cabbage butterfly, grey aphids, rabbits, hares, rats, mice, possums, snails, slugs, white fly and turnip mosaic virus”, said Dr Thorsen. “There was even an instance of a deer falling over a cliff onto a ledge inhabited by coastal peppercress and it ate everything it could reach”, he added.

Dr Thorsen said that the species would probably be extinct if not for the hard and persistent efforts of three Department of Conservation (DOC) workers.

Shannel Courtney of DOC, who has been protecting coastal peppercress for nearly twenty years, says the work is daunting, and for every sign of progress there would then come a set-back, “be it disease, a storm, or an unusually high tide dumping tonnes of driftwood on plants”. He and co-workers, Simon Walls and Roger Gaskell, together with other helpers over the years, attempted to establish populations at new sites as well as bolstering the last of the wild populations. “Unfortunately, our efforts have not been successful in increasing the number of coastal peppercress, and it is time to try fresh approaches”, said Mr Courtney.

Alice Lloyd-Fitt, Dunedin Botanic Garden’s Propagation Services Officer oversees apprentice Lucy Parsons sowing coastal peppercress seed in the new cultivation facility at the Dunedin Botanic Garden (Photo: Mike Thorsen)
It is thought that the cooler climate of Dunedin may mean that there are fewer pests and diseases present which would allow coastal peppercress plants to thrive. The Dunedin Botanic Garden Manager, Alan Matchett, says the role of the Botanic Garden is changing, and they are becoming more  involved in conservation programmes by providing their expertise in growing “difficult” plant species and using their state-of-the-art propagation facility which opened last year.

“We are intrigued by the challenges posed in growing coastal peppercress, and our involvement means that we not just answer the question ‘do we need to grow coastal peppercress in cooler environments?’, but we can also harvest seed from the plants grown here and these can be used to bolster the populations back in Nelson”, says Mr Matchett.

Seedlings of critically endangered coastal peppercress growing at Dunedin Botanic Garden (Photo: Liz Sherwood)
The coastal peppercress seeds were sown in December and germinated through January and February, with an approximate 60% rate of germination success. Dunedin Botanic Garden Propagation Services Officer Alice Lloyd-Fitt says they are now growing 89 healthy seedlings. 
The Endangered Species Foundation is pleased to be supporting this work. The Foundation was launched in October last year with the publication of its list of NZ’s ten most endangered species, of which coastal peppercress is number eight. Foundation chairperson, Kerry Prendergast, says “We want to help those who are working so hard to protect our rarest species. We also want to help facilitate innovative conservation efforts, such as this”.

The group has already raised over $1.5 million of its $30 million target.

Dr Thorsen said, “We’ve already lost two species of peppercress, and the remaining 18 endemic species are all close to becoming extinct for many of the same reasons as those threatening Nelson’s coastal peppercress. It would be a huge blow to lose plants that were once an important diet of Maori and were gathered by the ‘boatload’ by Captain Cook to ward off scurvy in his sailors. “What we learn with the coastal peppercress could be used to help these other species”, he said.

Volunteers are needed in Nelson to care for the remaining wild plants. Volunteers should contact DOC’s Takaka Office.

For more information on coastal peppercress please visit:
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network website search ‘Lepidium banksii’ (coastal peppercress)

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Trustee Vacancy - Expressions Of Interest Invited

Expressions of interest are invited for the role of Trustee for the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand.

Launched in October 2015, the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand (ESFNZ) is a registered charitable organisation supporting high-priority conservation projects that protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable indigenous species and habitats.

The Endangered Species Foundation aims to provide the sustainable, long-term support needed for conservation work at the frontline via a $30 million endowment fund. We provide a way for all New Zealanders to get involved and to make a lasting contribution. Dedicated to protecting our endangered species and habitats, trustees’ guidance ensures resources are allocated responsibly and to where they are needed most to best achieve our goals. Current trustees are Kerry Pendergast (Chair), Neil Thorsen, Richard Allen, Richard Dore, Grant Leach, Geoff Ross, Philip Seddon and Jacqueline Beggs.

The vacancy is to add one more Trustee with the appropriate expertise and connections to bring a Māori perspective to the Foundation. The position is open until filled. Further information is available from or 

Monday, 7 September 2015

What Next?

We are currently developing priority conservation project proposals that, when funded, will help secure species most at risk of extinction. These ‘priority projects’ will be on our website so anyone can read about what needs to be done, and can be inspired to donate to, or sponsor, a project. Each project proposal covers:
  • a biography of the species or habitat, including estimated population;
  • why it is a priority for protection;
  • what has already been done to help it;
  • what still needs to be done to prevent its extinction;
  • and, how much it will cost.
This will be great for Ambassadors, who can point potential donors to these pages on our website. Abbreviated project outlines will also soon be available in hard copy as an attractive booklet. Acumen Republic is currently working on this publication designed specifically for Ambassadors to give to potential donors.
The Mokohinau stag beetle - one of ESF's priority species. Photo Andrew Townsend/DOC/MONZ

Dr Mike Thorsen (ESFNZ Advisor) has been coordinating a multi-agency approach to “resurrecting the living dead” at Makara, on Wellington’s south coast. ESFNZ has attracted $200,000 in funding for the project from the Stout Trust, Nikau Foundation and local benefactors. The aim of the project is to reintroduce threatened plants to the area, in turn, providing natural habitat for threatened wildlife and opportunities for recreation. We are currently waiting on notification from Meridian on a funding application, before making a final decision on whether to proceed with the project with the current level of funding.

Planning is underway for our launch function at Zealandia, in Wellington, in late October/early November this year. Watch this space!

Zealandia received $10,000 from a local benefactor to replace two existing tuatara enclosures. Raewyn Empson, Manager of Conservation, Research and Education at Zealandia, said staff were disappointed to find the existing plywood enclosures rotting after only several years. Staff are now redesigning them to build an enclosure that will last but still meet husbandry requirements. With the animals currently in torpor (a state of decreased physiological activity), Raewyn says they plan to have the new enclosures ready for the tuatara once they become more active in September or October.

We are grateful to the Graham Hirst Kitney Charitable Trust for granting $10,000 to help purchase equipment for the development of a captive-breeding facility for endangered New Zealand insects at Lincoln University.