Researchers dream of bringing native wildlife back into the city

Two researchers from the University of Otago believe native wildlife like weka, tuatara and even bats should be reintroduced in cities - meaning you could go outside and find a kiwi in your garden.

New Zealand's biggest urban wetland is at Travis Wetland, in suburban Christchurch. Volunteers reconnect people with New Zealand's native animals there.

"People lose the sense of identity with these creatures, and therefore the need or desire or wish to protect them," Travis Wetland Trust President Dr Colin Meurk told Newshub.

Dr Yolanda van Heezik, from the Otago University, wants this idea rolled out on a grand scale. Her research identified a range of birds, lizards and invertebrates that could survive in urban areas.

"For some people that never really get out of cities, they never really have an opportunity to experience what our native species look like," she told Newshub.

The study, released in the scientific journal Pacific Conservation Biology, argues it's possible for kākā, weka and kārearea to co-exist with humans on a 'day to day' basis.

But there's a hitch: pets like cats and dogs would need to be kept on a much shorter leash.

Dr Yolanda van Heezik.
Dr Yolanda van Heezik. Photo credit: Newshub.

"We just have to get over the idea that keeping your cat inside is cruel, because it's not," Dr van Heezik said.

"If the cat has always been kept inside, it's perfectly happy to stay inside."

The hope of these conservationists is that the more the public interacts with native animals, the more they'll want to save them

"One day we will have kākāpō as pets, rather than kittens, wouldn't that be great! Having kākāpō and kiwi running around in your backyard," Dr Meurk said.