From pre-schoolers to petroleum workers - the Taranaki community is pitching in to bring North Island robin/toutouwai back to Mt Taranaki.
Mealworms are being farmed at over a dozen Taranaki schools, Shell NZ offices and in private homes to feed the North Island robin/toutouwai that will be reintroduced to Mt Taranaki in April. The birds are being returned after an over 110 year absence by ecological restoration project, Taranaki Mounga.
Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle and are a popular food with many bird species. “Robins find mealworms delicious,” says DOC community ranger Denise Goodman. “So, by having community volunteers farm lots of them we hope this will encourage the robins to stay close to the release site where they can be seen by the public and monitored by volunteers and staff.”
New Plymouth pre-school Jump Start is one of 12 schools around the district growing mealworms. “The children are absolutely loving it, they know the mealworms are for the robins and all want to help look after them,” says teacher Nikki Popata.
Shell NZ, which is one of the founding sponsors for Taranaki Mounga, is farming mealworms at both its New Plymouth office and Kapuni Production Station. "We haven't been brave enough to taste them which is all the better for the robin. It's a pretty easy way to help bring the birds home," says Maurice Gilmour, Kapuni Activity Manager.
Farming mealworms for robin food is simple: there are no fences (just a few ice cream containers with air holes) very little food (they rather like oatbran and carrots) and the containers require sifting occasionally to draft out the adults from the larvae.
The mealworms will be harvested in late March, in time for the translocation of robins from the Puerora Forest onto the mountain. North Island robins haven’t been seen on Mt Taranaki since 1905.
To check out a mealworm farm and discover more about Taranaki Mounga, and the translocation of robins back to the national park, visit a mealworm farm at Egmont National Park Visitor Centre or read about mealworm farming on theTaranaki Mounga website.
Schools taking part are :
- Stratford Primary School
- Ratapiko School
- Central School (New Plymouth)
- Urenui School (two classes)
- Highlands Intermediate science class
- Leperton School
- Hurangi School
- Omata School
- Motorua School
- Spotswood Primary School
- Jump Start pre-school
- Makahu School