Bringing species back, New Zealand style

A recently ringed male hihi

Male hihi  (photo credit: Leila Walker)

In the heart of New Zealand’s Waikato region, rising out of a sea of gently rolling pastoral farmland, is an imposing remnant of ancient forest that draws you in. Maungatautari Mountain. In many ways, this 34 km2 rugged pocket of land reflects the story of New Zealand as a whole: an isolated landmass brimming with uniquely wonderful life, now engaged in a spirited fight back after introduced pests threatened the existence of native flora and fauna. Central to this resurgence is New Zealand’s pioneering use of pest eradication and native species reintroduction.

In this, Maungatautari is leading the way. The world’s longest pest-proof fence stretches for 47 km around the mountain’s perimeter. Completed in 2006, it has ensured the eradication of all mammalian pests, with the exception of mice. The exclusion of the likes of cats, rats, mustelids and possums – to name just a few of the offenders – has paved the way for the reintroduction of a rich variety of native wildlife long missing from Maungatautari’s slopes. Continue reading