Feral Goats on Raoul Island. II. Diet and Notes on the Flora
- Protection Forestry Division, Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 31-011, Christchurch, New Zealand
Feral goats (Capra hircus) have been hunted intensively every year since 1972 on the 2950 ha Raoul Island to protect the indigenous vegetation. Rumen samples taken from 103 goats shot in 1982-83 showed that a minimum of 48 species of vascular plants, mostly indigenous species, were eaten. Only seven foods—Metrosideros kermadecensis, Coriaria arborea var. kermadecensis, Me/icytus ramiflorus spp. ramiflorus, Rhopalostylis baueri var. cheesemanii, various grasses and sedges, Blechnum spp., and the fungus Auricularia sp.—made up 89% of the diet by dry weight. The reduction in goat numbers has allowed most of the palatable species to regenerate, and rare, endangered plants such as Hebe breviracemosa, Homalanthus polyandrus, and Boehmeria australis var. dealbata are now increasing.