Stephens Island Weta
The Stephens Island Weta, Deinacrida rugosa, is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The Stephens Island Weta are endemic to New Zealand. They are nocturnal, large-bodied and flightless, and live for two to three years.
Once found throughout the lower North Island of New Zealand, this harmless giant has succumbed to the invasion of introduced mammals, such as rats, cats and hedgehogs. They now only survive on a few predator-free islands, away from the North Island mainland.
Since 1977, the Stephens Island Weta has been translocated to four new mammal-free islands, both for conservation of the species and as part of island restoration programmes. Recently, some weta were translocated into a fenced mainland area where all mammalian pests (except mice) had been successfully removed, restoring it to the main North Island, where they had been extinct for over 100 years. The Stephens Island Weta remain highly vulnerable to the reinvasion of introduced mammals and ongoing monitoring and management will be required in order to safeguard the future of these gentle giants.