Brendan Moyle

Massey University senior lecturer, Dr Brendan Moyle, has been passionate about wildlife his entire life, which motivated him to gain qualifications in zoology and economics. The economics comes from a simple realisation. Most causes of wildlife loss are ultimately economic in nature. Threats like habitat loss and poaching are fundamentally economic in nature. Of late he's been focused more on issues of wildlife poaching. When he started out as a zoologist, Brendan had a fascination with some of our smallest arachnids- the falsescorpions. Since then he's moved on to various crocodilians, and more recently, tigers. This takes him to smuggling ‘hotspots’, where avoiding getting eaten by large carnivores, bitten by small venomous reptiles, shot at by smugglers seem to be important skills. Like many other conservationists, I’ve also developed a keen interest in wildlife photography.

Where did we put all that CO2? Climate Change Policy for the Election - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Sep 01, 2017

Climate change is one of the NZ election issues of this year.  With that in mind, the Science Media Centre asked the parties the following question: How will your party meet the goals of the Paris Agreement? How will agriculture be accounted for in climate change adaptation and mitigation? What are your plans for the Emissions Trading Scheme? Introduction Global climate change is a product of changes to the composition of our atmosphere, that have been ongoing since the industrial era began in the early 1800s. Greenhouse gases like CO2 amplify solar radiation by reflecting more of it back on to the surface, rather than letting it escape into space. In terms of CO2 emissions NZ emits about 7.6 tonnes per person (World Bank: 2013 data), which is on par with China and a little less than the OECD … Read More

Watery Blues: Freshwater Quality Policy for the Election - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Aug 28, 2017

Freshwater policy has become one of the NZ election issues of this year.  With that in mind, the Science Media Centre asked the parties the following question: What policy decisions does your party propose to tackle the issue of freshwater quality degradation in our country’s waterways? I’m going to analyse the responses to this question.  Initially though, there are some aspects about freshwater management in New Zealand that need to be understood.  The first is that the statutory responsibility for managing freshwater in NZ lies with regional authorities.  Central government doesn’t give say, sawmills discharge rights into rivers or farmers’ irrigation rights to water.  That’s what councils/regional authorities do.  The second is we do have a framework for national water standards.  This process was started by the previous Labour government and developed and made operational by the current National … Read More

Rhino conservation dilemmas - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Aug 09, 2017

Since 2007-8 a number of species have undergone a sharp increase in poaching. These include the African elephants (savannah and forest), the pangolin and African rhino (black and white).  Poaching of rhinos is nothing new. It’s been taking place since the 1960s and rhinos have all but disappeared except for their strong-holds in Southern Africa. South Africa and Namibia bucked the trends by increasing their populations. Almost all of the gains in the graphic below come from the increases in Southern Africa. Rhino Population Trends – ‘t sas-Rolfes Ironically, this growth was accompanied by conservation policies that many regard as being antithetical to conservation. This included rhino-farming and trophy-hunting.  Much of the growth in South Africa occurred on private land, not in state protected areas.  Those countries that tried a more orthodox approach (nature reserves, no hunting) lost their … Read More

Size Matters: the challenge of being a green consumer - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jul 26, 2017

The one thing that has really changed in the last century is the size and scale of human effects on the environment.   This isn’t to say we didn’t have impacts before. As humans spread over this globe, many vertebrate species became extinct. Whether it’s the giant mammoths or giant moas, humans alter the world around them.  What is different is the scale of these changes now. We are able to alter the climate and damage large ecosystems in ways our early ancestors never could.  It’s a combination of two factors.  The size of the human population and what we consume.  It’s at a scale where what we do, makes a big impact. One example is agriculture. A few thousand years ago, when a small number of human communities began gathering some sheep, or goats, or cows to … Read More

A seascape for the shortest day - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 21, 2017

Introduction It’s the shortest day in NZ today.  We’re also expecting more bad weather.  That augured well for some seascape photos down at one of the local beaches.  Normally the swells on the gulf around the beaches here are sedate. Unimpressive.  A good storm can give them an interesting dynamic.  After dropping kiddo 3 at school, I stopped by at Waiake. Gear I kept it simple. My tripod. Its geared head. The Sony a7R (because 36MP is a great size for large prints) and a Minolta 17-35mm f3.5 G.  It’s an old Minolta wide angle that I quite like using for landscapes and seascapes.  Plus a minimal set of Lee filters. Photos One of the earlier shots.  I’m shooting toward the rising, morning sun.  The clouds are thickening in this direction.  I slowed the shutter down to get a sense … Read More

An evening at Stanley Point - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 01, 2017

Introduction Monday night once again, required a trip down to Devonport with one of the kids.  I like to use this time to take some photos, while kid does his thing. This Monday though, was a graphic illustration of congestion costs. An accident on Lake Road led to its closure earlier. While it had since reopened, the roads were still clogged with cars.  Takapuna was in virtual gridlock. As we sat in the car, I expounded again on the virtues of cycling. These virtues were made more obvious by the cyclists moving ahead of the cars. In the end, we got to Devonport a mere 30 minutes late. A not uncommon occurrence as many other kids were late. Earlier in the year I was able to get shots of dusk and the like, but with the short days, it’s dark … Read More

The Beginner’s Guide to Freshwater Policy in NZ - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 01, 2017

Introduction Freshwater policy in New Zealand is undergoing a lot of debate.   Unfortunately with all the hyperbole and claims, it can be difficult to determine what it is that is being debated.  With the creation of the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS-FM for those that prefer abbreviations), Central Government has taken on a more active role.  This also has created confusion over the roles of the different parties.  This blog hopefully, gives a brief precis as 10 questions, that can help explain it better. 1. Whose Job Is It Anyway? The passage of the Resource Management Act (1991), established the statutory responsibilities for managing freshwater bodies are regional authorities (local government).  These are responsible for issuing consents to use water and managing water quality.  In principle this balances economic, social, environmental and cultural values.  Ideally this would sustain … Read More

An evening at Bayswater - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

May 26, 2017

Introduction Photography has been an intermittent activity of late.  It’s also been tricky this time of the year with writing tests, exams and grading, to get away with the camera.  I’ve been more inclined to go just for a run or bike ride to clear the head. Nonetheless, Monday gave me the opportunity to do some photography around Devonport.  One of the kids was going to be there for the evening, and I was operating the taxi-service. I had ruminated a return to Torpedo Bay or North head, but the sun had set by the time I was in Devonport.  I thought I’d try my luck at Bayswater instead. The Gear I knew from previous visits that Bayswater gave a good view of the Auckland skyline across the Waitemata harbour. In it itself though, it was not that interesting.  At … Read More

A distant look at Cyclone Cook - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 21, 2017

The Cyclone Last Thursday (13th April) Cyclone Cook arrived.  As a precaution, places in Auckland closed. Including Massey’s Albany campus at 11.00 am.  In the end the path of the Cyclone (for Auckland) was a little too easterly and we escaped most of the havoc.  Bad weather also can generate interesting seascapes, so I decided to try my luck at Long Bay Regional Park, before the Cyclone was due to hit.  I’d got some nice shots when Cyclone Pam had passed by a couple of years ago. With the tide also relatively low, I expected I could position myself well away from the water’s edge if necessary. And escape if things got too exciting. The Gear I was traveling relatively light in case I needed to end things early.  There was the tripod obviously.  I’m a fan of Carbon-Fibre tripods.  … Read More

An evening at Maungauika - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 12, 2017

At the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour, at Devonport, is Maungauika or North Head. The reserve can be appealing to explore in evenings.  On the west side, you get views of Devonport and Auckland itself.  On the east side there is a view of Rangitoto Island and the channel separating it from the North Shore.  With a couple of hours to kill, I ventured back on there in the fading light.  It’s a nice place to explore, as few people hang around as it gets dark.  You’re more likely to startle the odd hedgehog instead – as I did… I ventured out with a minimal landscape kit. My tripod, some Lee filters, and the Sony a7R with the Minolta 17-35mm f3.5 G lens. I’ve also added one more bit of kit. My iPhone can also act as … Read More