Oākura couple protect a piece of paradise

Oākura locals Clive Saleman and Libby Baker have seen first-hand what a predator-free environment looks like.

Oākura locals Clive Saleman and Libby Baker have seen first-hand what a predator-free environment looks like.

They visited Ulva Island off Stewart Island to experience the abundant birdlife in 2016.

“The forest floor was covered in seedlings and there were birds everywhere. Wood pigeons and New Zealand robins were happily feeding on the path around our feet. Saddlebacks hopped and flitted nearby, and countless bellbirds, kākā and tui were singing all around,” says Clive.

“And what helped get it to this state were the networks of traps everywhere on the island, all maintained by volunteers for years. Now they are down to catching one rat per year.”

Since this trip, Clive and Libby have visited Tiritiri Matangi in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and Taranaki’s own Lake Rotokare. Libby has also spent a night on Kapiti Island off the Wellington coast.

“I loved sleeping in a tent listening to the noises of the nocturnal birdlife,” says Libby.

With the start of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki and then the active local Restore Oākura group, Clive and Libby knew they wanted to get involved to help bring predator numbers down in their own community.

Every Saturday they check and maintain seven stoat traps and 12 rat traps along the walkway between the Surf Club and Whenuariki Stream by Ahu Ahu Beach.

“People stop and ask us how it is going, they are really interested, a lot already have traps and others ask how they can get them” says Clive. “When we get home Libby logs the catch onto the trap.nz website.”

Towards Predator-Free Taranaki Project Manager Toby Shanley says the great work by Clive and Libby is making a positive impact.

“Since they began checking traps along the walkway earlier this year, they’ve caught 25 rats and 11 mice. They are our local heroes and it is a positive step for our native flora and fauna,” says Toby.

“We check weekly and we find that most of the peanut butter bait is gone, even when nothing is caught,” says Clive. “It’s important to keep checking and re-baiting as with no bait the traps are not going to catch anything.”

Would you like traps for your backyard, or to look after a part of a reserve or walkway?

Find out more here https://trc.govt.nz/environment/working-together/pf-taranaki2050/#Getinvolved(external link)

Or call Taranaki Regional Council on 0800 736 222 or email pftaranaki@trc.govt.nz.