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The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust celebrated 30 years since its formation at a special function last night at a time when its work is needed more than ever.
About 100 people attended the celebratory event, which included speeches and the launch of the trust's oral history project.
Trust general manager Sue Murray said the celebrations were particularly significant, as the trust was the first of its kind in that it was solely dedicated to protecting or saving one species.
``At the time, it was quite a unique thing to do.''
Now there were multiple single-species trusts established all over the country.
``We were a formative model for creation back then.''
The trust interviewed five of the eight founding trustees for an oral history project on the governance of the trust. The project was launched last night.
At the time the trust was formed, there was a real need for something to be done to help save the penguins, as it was likely there would be no populations on the Otago coastline by 2020.
With the trust's help, penguin populations rose over the decades. However, despite intervention, yellow-eyed penguin numbers have been dwindling over the past few years.
``For the last two years, the numbers have been lower than they have been for 25 years,'' Mrs Murray said.
There were about 250 breeding pairs on the Otago coast. Before, they had averaged between 400 and 600 breeding pairs.
The trust was now focusing on the marine environment to identify what might be causing the decline in the population.
The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust owns or manages five reserves in Otago.
The trust was thankful for continued support from Mainland as its major sponsor.