Rotopounamu Update September 2012

Rotopounamu Update September 2012

Department of Conservation has published the Mt Pihanga Rotopounamu Restoration Project Annual Report for Year 9 2011 - 2012

by Ian McNickle, Biodiversity Ranger, Department of Conservation

The Mt Pihanga/ Rotopounamu project was established in 2003 and is community focused with integrated pest management and advocacy at its core. The project is managed according to the Rotopounamu Management Plan (2008), which aims to maintain, enhance (or re-establish) vulnerable habitats and ecosystems and their component fauna and flora; and to prevent the establishment of new threats. To achieve this, it lists nine biodiversity objectives. The purpose of this document is to report progress made against these objectives and make recommendations for the future.

Diphacinone, 0.05g/kg, Pest Off cereal pellets was the chosen bait again this year for the rodent control operation having proven very successful in the 2010/11 season. The bait has once again controlled rats to target levels through most of the bird breeding season this year. The rodent control programme had some challenges with a number of trees coming down and pigs deciding the bait in the bait stations was a good source of food. Five minute bird counts were undertaken again by DOC staff and Project Tongariro Interns, with a total of 248 counts completed. Significant increases in rifleman, silvereye and whitehead numbers were seen, showing that they have experienced another good breeding season. The kakariki population continues to steadily increase and Rotopounamu is proving to be a stronghold for this species.

Wax tags were used to measure possum abundance within the 530ha management block, and the equivalent of less than 2% RTCI was recorded. Therefore no possum management was undertaken this year. Project Tongariro volunteers continued to check the 50 traps set around the walking track, killing 19 stoats and 79 rats.

Due to a reduction in staff numbers for the year, no threatened species monitoring was undertaken, although these surveys were identified as ideal Project Tongariro intern projects. Similarly, no weed control was undertaken along the lake margins, although heather was targeted on the Pihanga summit.

Project Tongariro members and interns put a lot of effort in to the Rotopounamu project volunteering a lot of time running tracking tunnels, checking and clearing traps and anything else that was asked of them. Their skill bases are expanding every year and their friendly faces are great advocates for Project Tongariro and conservation in general while carrying out the work.

The “Adopt a Hectare” initiative is steadily building in momentum with 60 hectares adopted by the community so far. The Rotopounamu walk is a great attraction to travelers and the local community with more than 11,000 visitors per annum. The Rotopounamu project also provides a great advocacy tool for demonstrating predator control techniques to the public.

Overall the 2011/12 season was a great success and the future looks positive for the Rotopounamu Project. The 2012/13 season will see another great year of Project Tongariro working with the Department of Conservation to restore the ecosystem of the MT Pihanga – Rotopounamu area.

Average Number of Calls per 5 Minute Bird Count for Native Species Recorded at Rotopounamu 2010 to 2012 


Rat and Mice Tracking Tunnel Footprint Index from 2009 to 2012


If you would like to review the report please download it here -  Mt Pihanga - Restoration Project Annual Report Year 9 - 2011 - 2012

Roel Michels