Available in bookshops nationwide.
Ajax is a working dog trained to sniff out the nests of endangered kea in remote parts of the South Island. His trainer, Corey Mosen, then places cameras in and around the nests to monitor the kea and any predators that might attack them.
Corey Mosen is a wildlife biologist working for the Department of Conservation and picked the Border Collie / Catahoula cross pup from a litter in Westport, after being advised the Catahoula were highly intelligent and had heaps of energy, making them suitable for the hard work in the high country. His book describes how he trained the pup to seek out the nests and the rigorous testing which took around 18 months before he was approved. Ajax is one of around 80 dogs in New Zealand who work to detect protected species or unwanted pests as part of the internationally recognised Conservation Dogs Programme.
The pair use a helicopter for many of the journeys and often camp out together in the remote terrain of the high country. It is a wonderful story of a man and his mate working together in unpredictable weather and harsh conditions and Mosen has included a great selection of photographs many snapped by him while they have been out on the job.
The author has also included chapters ‘Introducing the Kea’ and ‘Threats to the Kea’ which discuss the habits of the mountain parrot and I was unaware kea nest underground, making them particularly vulnerable to stoats, wild cats, possums – and even ‘rats have been seen hooking into kea eggs.’
The Appendix provides information about the Kea Conservation Trust supplied by Tamsin Orr- Walker, as well as information about ways to help kea and resolving conflict with kea.
Ajax the Kea Dog is an interesting read written with humour, and portrays the wonderful bond between a man and his dog carrying out important conservation work. Before reading this book I had not realised that kea were considered endangered in New Zealand as I have often encountered the cheeky parrot while visiting the high country. A wide age group will enjoy this publication and it could sit well in a library in a secondary school to promote a career in conservation.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
Ajax the Kea Dog
by Corey Mosen
Allen & Unwin New Zealand