Last Thursday, more North Island robins, or toutouwai, were released on to Mt Taranaki thanks to one of the world's most intensive rat and small rodent trapping networks in operation.
The trapping network is providing a safe haven for wildlife on Mt Taranaki, and has enabled the reintroduction of the toutouwai on to the mountain. The bird was previously presumed extinct in the region after 1905, when it had last been sighted in the area.
Now, thanks to the work of conservationist groups and projects, the small birds are once again living on the mountain.
The Taranaki Mounga environmental restoration project, Department of Conservation (DOC) and other partners have set up a network of 2160 Goodnature A24 traps in a 1000ha 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 per cent during breeding and fledging seasons. This is well below the 5 per cent threshold recommended for a safe habitat for robins to flourish," says Taranaki Mounga project manager Sean Zieltjes.
The benefits are immense with 45 toutouwai / North Island robin released to the mounga over the past week.
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 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 Ngati 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 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.
Taranaki Mounga is a collaboration between the Department of Conservation (DOC), Taranaki Iwi Chairs Forum and philanthropic investor NEXT Foundation, supported by founding sponsors Shell New Zealand, Jasmine Social Investments, TSB Community Trust and Landcare Research. The project will push the boundaries in landscape-scale ecological restoration over an area that includes the 34,000 ha of national park encompassing Taranaki, Pouakai, Kaitake and the protected Nga Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands.
Taranaki Mounga will restore and revitalise the environment so wildlife will once again flourish in this treasured place.