The Cacophony Project Strategy and Progress: A summary

If you're a regular reader of our blog, it might be easy to get the impression that we are randomly trying lots of things.  The reality of life on the project is somewhat different - there is a targeted structure to what we are doing. This post gives a summary of that strategy.  To bring back the Cacophony of native fauna in NZ there are a number of separate parts of the puzzle that we are trying to solve. What follows is a summary of each sub-goal as we see it along with an indication of where we are up to with our progress.


What are we working on?

The sub projects are:

  • Permanent bird monitor - way to measure if the number of birds in an area is increasing or decreasing
  • Predator monitor - tool to know more accurately and at a low cost how many predators are out there
  • Rapid lure/trap experimental tool - set of tools to allow experiments with predator behaviour and to be able to rapidly test traps and lures etc.
  • Model to test and communicate different trapping methods - the goal of this is to understand what trapping strategies are likely to make the most difference. Some of the results from this seem a little counter-intuitive
  • Multi-predator suppression - a device that has a higher catch rate than other devices and can catch a range of predators
  • Last predator/re-invasion elimination tool - this is currently a very expensive part of the process and our aim is to create a tool to make this more scalable
  • Virtual fence - once we can systematically achieve last predator elimination then we can test to see if it is possible to establish a virtual fence with devices rather than physical fences
  • Total elimination urban - create a set of tools to make it possible to get total elimination and maintain it in urban areas
  • Total elimination rural - create a set of tools to make it possible to get total elimination and maintain it in rural areas
  • Total elimination bush - create a set of tools to make it possible to get total elimination and maintain it in remote bush - this is the hardest and last problem in our view.  It is not likely to be achievable if you can’t do everything mentioned above this


How far have we got?

The table below shows the status of each sub-project.

Below is a list of each sub project with links to the relevant blog posts.


Permanent bird monitor


Predator monitor - thermal camera


Rapid lure/trap experimental tool


Model to test and communicate effectiveness of different trapping methods


Multi-predator suppression (trap)


Note: the video shows a blackbird being caught just to show how it works - it was released unharmed (birds are not caught in the trap we are testing as it is only active at night). Despite having trail cameras on all the tests only the hedgehog one showed the trap going off (trail cameras are not designed for NZ predators). The thermal footage is harder to see what is going on but hopefully you get the idea.


Publication Date: 
Monday, 14 September 2020