Last year the Wellington Zoo Conservation Local Grants Programme awarded small grants for six projects in the Greater Wellington Region and the Chatham Islands.

Dactylanthus taylorii

Dactylanthus taylorii - photo by David Mudge, Nga Manu

We're thrilled to be supporting Otari Wilton’s Bush Trust Board and their work to conserve an incredibly rare and unique plant called, Dactylanthus taylorii or its Māori name, Pua o te reinga meaning “flower of the underworld."

Dactylanthus is a parasitic native flowering plant that relies on a host for its water and nutrients. What makes this plant so special is that it is pollinated by bats!

Short-tailed Bat

Short-tailed Bat among Dactylanthus - photo by David Mudge, Nga Manu

Due to habitat destruction and the impact of introduced animals like possums, rats and pigs, sadly Dactylanthus is now limited to only 5% of its former range.

Through the Zoo's Conservation Local Grants Programme, we are supporting Otari Wilton's Bush to establish living collections for this species via conventional and cryobanking of seeds. This work could enable the future reintroduction of Dactylanthus back to Wellington, which is also one of the long-term goals for our conservation partner, ZEALANDIA.

Dactylanthus taylorii seeds

Dactylanthus taylorii seeds - photo by Otari Wilton's Bush Trust