We have established two sanctuary areas within the Maungataniwha Native Forest where predator populations are being reduced in an effort to provide a safe place for a variety of native bird species to breed.
The first is a 600-hectare sanctuary centred on Waiau Camp while the second is a 400-hectare swathe of bushland bordering the Te Hoe River.
Target predators are primarily possums and rats, and the birds we’re aiming to protect include the threatened species of Kaka, Yellow-Crowned Kakariki, Long-Tailed and Shining Cuckoos, and Kereru.
Old logging tracks have been cleared to allow quad-bike access and walking tracks have been cut every 150 metres. This has made baiting easier and more effective, with bait stations spaced at 75 metre intervals along each track.
Hundreds of bait stations have been donated by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and individuals, or purchased by the Trust. Pindone and Ferratox (encapsulated cyanide) are placed in each station.
Our target is to reduce rats to less than five percent rat tracking and possums to an RTC (Residual Trap Catch) of less than two percent.
Five-minute bird counts are conducted in the sanctuaries at regular intervals. Counting stations are positioned on roads and tracks and spaced at no less than 225 metres. These exercises provide data to indicate the effectiveness of our trapping and other predator control work.
Species which have been observed or known to be present include kaka, morepork, kiwi, whio, kotare, pheasant, quail, and Long Tailed and Shining Cuckoo.
At Pohokura we are removing Pinus contorta, a variety of pine tree which spreads vigorously and grows quickly to suppress native vegetation.
We’ve also been eliminating possums to help protect our population of Pittosporum turneri, a shrub or small tree ranked as ‘Nationally Vulnerable’ by DOC. This is the most threatened ranking of any species yet identified at Pohokura and our estimate of the total number of plants here exceeds 1,000 - five to 10 percent of the estimated population remaining nationally.
Possums pose a major threat to Pittosporum turneri, browsing and killing the juvenile plant and suppressing the emergence of adult foliage. Since on-going periodic aerial 1080 poisoning for possums began in 2005 we’ve seen the emergence of adult foliage and seed. Seed pods propagated at Taupo Native Plant Nursery have enabled us to establish our own seed nursery, yielding trees that have been planted out back in the wild. Continued possum control and the propagation of seed to establish another population to the south should further safeguard the plant here.