New Zealand is a beautiful place. Emerald hills, rugged mountains, and lush forests all mixed together to create unique habitats. But probably the most interesting aspect of New Zealand is that it has no native species of land based mammals. In fact the only mammals native to this island country  are a few bats.

Mountains in New Zealand

Mountains in New Zealand

This may seem weird as New Zealand has become somewhat famous for the size of its red deer. While these islands are now home to several large mammals these species are not supposed to be there. They were imported by Europeans as they began to settle the area. Since then many species of game animals, particularly red stags and fallow deer have thrived in this lush country.

Ever since humans arrived on these islands we have been manipulating the ecosystem. The Giant Moas were among the first victims of humans in New Zealand. These relatives of ostriches were easy prey for the first settlers of New Zealand and were quickly wiped out. Later, when the first Europeans arrived bringing along land based mammals the ecosystem was again drastically altered leading to further declines in bird life.

Giant Moas

Giant Moas

Until the intervention of man, these islands were the only place in the world where birds had won the evolutionary arms race against mammals. Across all other land masses mammals were the dominant life forms. This was the one great stronghold of birds in which they were the dominant taxa. All ecological niches had been filled by the evolution of some adaptation or another within birds. Even to this day birds dominate the landscape outside of those areas which man has aided his mammalian stock in taking hold.

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