An Introduction to WilderPigs
Hi, my name is Robert – I’m researching feral pigs for my Masters thesis at the University of Auckland. The research takes me on expeditions into the heart of the Hunua Ranges, setting up motion-catpure cameras to study the effect of pigs on native forests.
I wanted to start this blog as a way of sharing these adventures and everything I have learned about feral pigs, invasive species, native plants & wildlife.
Feral pigs can cause a lot of damage to native ecosystems. They root up the forest floor in search of food; chowing down on native plants, seeds, roots, earthworms, snails, frogs, lizards and birds. Not only that, but all that rooting about destroys habitat for native species, damages plants and helps spread weeds and disease.
Understanding the “Damage Function”
My research aims to create a Damage Function for feral pig populations in New Zealand. In many cases it is not possible or even desirable to get completely eradicate feral pigs. But if we know the relationship between the number of pigs and the damage they cause (i.e. the damage function), then it gives us useful information about how to manage pig populations at the right level to protect our native environments.
To do this, I’ll be using camera-traps. These neat little devices have a motion sensor that when triggered captures a short video or photo. They are an excellent tool for monitoring cryptic creatures like pigs that don’t like to be found.
So Join the Hunt!
Follow the blog for updates, tweet me @RobertVennell or drop me a message on the Contact page. I’ll be heading out on adventures till November 2016 and am always looking for keen volunteers to bring along.
The images for this post (except the pig) were shot by Edin Whitehead. She also shot the header image at the front of the site. Check out her excellent photography blog at edinz.com.