2 Jun, 2018 2:00pm
The ambitious new plan to make Taranaki, and the rest of New Zealand, predator free. / Alan Gibson
Science Reporter, NZ Herald
It's been nearly two years since New Zealand announced to the world we'd be free of pest predators by 2050. Are we any closer to winning the war? Jamie Morton reports.
It had been raining for weeks in Taranaki.
When the clouds finally cleared this week, the mountain's new cloak of white snow shone resplendent against a brilliant blue sky.
It was a good day for pictures.
It was a bad one for pests.
At the foot of the Pouakai Range, in the rainforest garden Pukeiti, the region's leaders came together to declare war on every rat, stoat and possum in more than 4500ha of farmland surrounding the national park.
A $47 million, five-year battle would clear one wedge of countryside after another.
Cleaned-out areas, the gathering was told, would be bolstered against reinfestation by a network of natural barriers, traps and remote sensors clever enough to alert smartphones every time a vermin was killed.
Here was the largest-yet project of its kind: a beachhead from which New Zealand could reclaim its wilderness from the scourge of predators.
It seemed fitting that Taranaki should be where the fight starts - its lofty peak symbolic of the hike ahead.