The sight of bright orange berries littering the forest floor on Mt Taranaki is an encouraging sign the Mounga is taking its first steps towards coming back to life.
These photos showing Comprosma berries on the ground were taken in the area of the national park where 50 toutouwai/robin were released in April. A network of 2,160 Goodnature A24 self resetting rat traps have been deployed over 1,000ha in the area – the largest network of these traps in the world.
Taranaki Mounga Project Manager Sean Zieltjes and DOC Senior Biodiversity Ranger Emily King were part of a group which spotted the healthy Comprosma laden with berries.
“Seeing these bright orange berries on the ground is a great indication that our A24 self re-setting trap network is working wonders at keeping rat numbers low in this area. This is not a common sight when walking in the bush in areas of little or no pest control,” says Emily.
Possums and rats find these berries tasty and they also attack nesting birds in spring so knowing the predators are not around in great numbers at this time of year is encouraging.
“It’s great to see the efforts the teams are making in the area are making a difference. Looking ahead, we will be evaluating different methods of predator control to build on this early success,” says Sean.
The A24 rat trapping network was set up to protect the toutouwai/robin that were released into the area, and was deployed after last years’ aerial predator control operation over the whole mountain. A24 traps reset themselves using a gas cannister and can kill up to 24 times, Coupled with an automatic lure dispenser they reduce the amount of time traps have to be checked and re-baited, reducing the cost of servicing a trapping network.
If you want to head into the toutouwai/robin release area to see the healthy forest for yourself tthe Ngatoro track is a good option. If you do see a toutouwai please log your sighting on our citizen science project – check out http://taranakimounga.nz/get-involved/toutouwairobin-sightings/ for details on how.