What you might not know – about t0tara and possums
Thousands of tōtara trees die every year, and it’s often due to murder by possums. You wouldn’t think there would be much for possums to munch on, but at certain times of year the tōtara is vulnerable.
“They bother with the young leaves in spring, and also the buds before they open out,” says Philip. “And I’m not quite sure about the difference in chemistry between lowland and Halls tōtara but all tōtara gets severely damaged by possums and all through NZ it has been killed in its hundreds of thousands. In some places like the Ruahine Range in southern central North Island, Halls tōtara has been virtually eliminated.” But have you ever seen a possum in a tōtara? “I searched long and hard for a photograph of a possum in a tōtara, all the top nature photographers in New Zealand like Rod Morris and so on. But of course they are nocturnal and going out and looking for possums is not everyone’s cup of tea.” However, it is Philip’s cup of tea. “I spend quite a lot of time outside at night with possums because they’re here and I shoot them. I don’t like doing it, they’re beautiful creatures in their own way, however they do so much damage and New Zealand is being ruined by pests, especially the ones that eat birds: possums, stoats and rats.”