Maungataniwha Lizard Survey

19-20 February 2022

There comes a time in the lives of some trampers when they realise that dashing about in the jungle with the aim of reaching the hut first is questionable and even frivolous. I’m the first to admit that increasing physical infirmity may also be involved but at least a few of our group were sound of mind, wind and limb.  So it was that 12 of us with baggage, and with food for a week set off for Maungataniwha, a Forest Life Force restoration project on the east side of the Whirinaki forest.

The plan was to check pitfall traps and refuge boxes attached to trees for skinks and geckos respectively. The fact that we found neither did not necessarily reflect incompetence or the considerable damage or malfunction of some of the infrastructure, but it may be that the high rat numbers have kept lizard populations very low. Certainly the systems work well in other sites. We made some modifications and more will be made before our next visit. At one pitfall site the high deer population had destroyed many lids and damaged a few of the in-ground buckets. 

There were some tree and cave weta in the refuges but in numbers fewer than found at Boundary Stream not far to the south. Spiders were remarkably rare. 

The accomodation is palatial by tramping standards, but we coped without difficulty or embarrassment. Each participant had something to contribute but special mention should be made of Lex for keeping the van on the road, Marion for leading a small group of diligent housewives of all genders, Joan for reducing at the local wasp population by 0.00037%  and of course Pam was generous in her dispensing of wisdom and reminiscence and pudding. 

My only regret was that the small group responsible for collecting mosquitoes were quite unable to fulfil that simple task. They will not be high on the list of invitees next time.

Joan R, Susan L, Lex S, Anne S, Brent H, Graeme H, Dave M, Paula K, Marion N, Fred C, Pam T, Mike L

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