One of the world’s most intensive rat and small rodent trapping networks is providing a safe haven for wildlife on Mt Taranaki, resulting in the release of more toutouwai / North Island robin back to mountain.

The Taranaki Mounga environmental restoration project, Department of Conservation (DOC) and other partners have set up a network of 2,160 Goodnature A24 traps in a 1,000ha area on the eastern side of Mounga Taranaki below North Egmont.

The A24 trap is a New Zealand innovation which resets itself up to 24 times per single CO2 canister.

“The results have been excellent. Rat rates have reduced to only 1 – 2 percent during breeding and fledging seasons. This is well below the 5 percent threshold recommended for a safe habitat for robins to flourish,” says Taranaki Mounga project manager Sean Zieltjes.

The benefits are immense with up to 50 toutouwai/North Island robin to be released to the mounga from this Thursday.

This release follows on from the project’s first successful release of 50 toutouwai in April 2017.

DOC’s Senior Biodiversity Ranger Emily King says recent monitoring indicates that there are toutouwai pairs breeding on Mt Taranaki after being extinct from the area for 112 years.

“Having new toutouwai in the area is exciting. The release of more birds will add to the population and we are looking forward to seeing more breeding pairs in the future,” she says.

Over the summer 25 volunteers helped on pre-feed trips at Pureora Forest Park where over 200 toutouwai were encountered. The project has been working with Ngāti Rereahu, the mana whenua of Pureora Forest Park, to bring the birds to Taranaki.

Pre-feeding familiarises the birds with humans and gives them a taste for mealworms, which are used to lure the birds safely to capture.

Volunteer Pat Murphy has been part of the monitoring, pre-feed and catching teams and has enjoyed his days at Pureora Forest Park.

“The toutouwai are curious and fascinating birds. It’s wonderful to see more released on the on the Mounga and it has been a real privilege and learning experience to be part of the translocation.”

The toutouwai / robin translocation was also supported by nearby Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust which provided expertise and volunteers to help catch and release the birds.