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History of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust

In the 1980s, research carried out on the Otago Peninsula showed that, because the yellow-eyed penguin population had declined drastically due to severe predation and loss of habitat, it was now considered to be an endangered species.

The unique penguin is found only along the eastern coastline of the South Island of New Zealand, as far north as Banks Peninsula and as far south as the Catlins, and on Stewart Island and beyond to the subantarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands.

So, in 1987, Dunedin conservationists formed the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust with the aim of saving the penguin by restoring coastal forest and controlling predators.

The Trust office is based in Dunedin, but manages land and penguin interests in Otago, Southland and Canterbury on the mainland of New Zealand. Their plant nursery is in Company Bay, Otago Peninsula.

In its first 22 years, the Trust protected yellow-eyed penguin habitats along the Otago and Southland coastlines, by providing fencing to protect the nests from wandering stock, planting trees and shrubs, and purchasing other areas for penguin reserves.

The plant nursery, established in 1988 has propagated more than 140,000 native trees and shrubs sourced from local seed. These have all been planted out in the appropriate habitat to provide more shelter and better nesting sites required by the penguins.