WReNNZ (Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of New Zealand) is New Zealand's leading national wildlife network focused on best practice wildlife rehabilitation. Many of WReNNZ members run wildlife centres, work in wildlife hospitals and provide wildlife training. We profile members to encourage increased community support for wildlife, WReNNZ and the wildlife work of our members. If you are interested in wildlife we encourage you to get involved and in Tauranga please support WReNNZ and your local member, Wild Bird Care.
Q&A with Mandy & Brian Robertson, Wild Bird Care, Tauranga
What prompted your interest in wildlife?
Mandy: I always wanted to be involved with animals and had that opportunity when we moved to NZ and lived on a lifestyle block in Auckland. Rescued a few goslings and ducklings but had a problem when Brian brought a Scaup home (Diving Duck), it had been hit by a car. I had no idea what to do so contacted the local vet who put me in touch with a wildlife rehabilitator; the rest is history!
When did you start your Trust and where are you based?
Mandy: We were originally in Auckland and in 2003, working with the SPCA, we started rescuing all creatures – rabbits, hedgehogs, pet mice and birds, domestic fowl and wild birds. The Trust was started in 2009 and we decided we should focus on just birds. The numbers coming into care were still too many to cope with as an individual, so we tried to focus on just natives, but it was too hard to say no when someone brought in a non-native!
How many animals have you helped and how many are you caring for now?
Brian: We were taking in up to 1200 birds a year, and in 2015 following the decision by Mandy to donate a kidney to a family member we started the process of closing the Whitford Rescue Centre so that the organ transplant could take place at the appropriate time without the worry of keeping the centre running. We are currently based in Tauranga and the Trust continues to operate, by offering advice, support by way of donated products and selling rehabilitation products online, to keep the Trust operating.
Do you have a favourite species to care for? If yes, why?
Mandy: I have no favourite species but if I was to start wildlife rehabilitation again I would focus on a single species; which one would depend where I was living i.e. if at the coast it would be seabirds. Doing this this would make it more manageable and sustainable.
What are the hardest things and the best things about wildlife rehabilitation?
Mandy: The hardest things were euthanising a bird that had been in care for a while and appeared to be doing well. Also, doing a hard release on birds that had been in care as chicks. Best thing about it all was the pleasure of a good release, and even better was having positive feed-back at a later date i.e. a banded bird sighting from China while on migration 3 years after release.
How long have you been a member of WReNNZ and what prompted you to join?
Mandy: I have been a member since its inception. I did not want to miss out on being part of new and necessary organisation.
What do you enjoy most about being a member?
Mandy: Meeting like-minded people and the network our Trust has built with them over the years.
Why would you encourage other people interested in wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation to join WReNNZ?
Mandy: It is always good to be part of something that is working towards goals similar to your own. Also, the networking and support you gain by getting to know people whose interests and focus are the same as yours – you can’t beat it!
If people reading this would like to support you, how can they help e.g. do you need volunteers, donations or equipment?
Mandy: Our Trust relies on donations both monetary and products. The monetary donations go toward the running costs of the Trust i.e. the website, supporting and hosting training programmes with Learn Bird Care, purchasing rehabilitation products to sell at reasonable rates via the on-line shop; local rehabbers are always given a discount where possible. There are no salaried employees, just volunteers. Donated products are donated on to rehabbers when requested, the Trust just requires the postage to be covered.