Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Elephants bring in the alligators


1 July 2013

Elephants bring in the alligators

Circus elephants are believed to have been indirectly responsible for a large outbreak of the notorious pest plant alligator weed near Hamilton recently.

The unusual story is being highlighted by Waikato Regional Council at the start of Biosecurity Month which begins today.

“Alligator weed is a dangerous pest plant which we’re trying to keep out of the Waikato because it can spread really quickly, taking over pasture, crowding out native plants and choking waterways, hurting both the economy and the environment,” said pest management committee chair Laurie Burdett.

“This case involving elephants shows just how careful and vigilant people have to be to help keep alligator weed out.”

The four hectare outbreak of alligator weed on the outskirts of the city was found in April this year by a spray contractor. The contractor had ironically been to an alligator weed identification workshop run by the council the week before.

During discussions with the landowner about the find, council biosecurity staff learnt from him that the alligator weed started sprouting after a load of elephant dung was purchased as a fertiliser from a circus that visited Hamilton in 2007.

Subsequent checks uncovered the suggestion that about 60 per cent of what elephants eat is excreted virtually untouched. Alligator weed is fairly common in Northland and often turns up in cheap hay or silage from there, and it was clearly possible the elephants had consumed such feed.

The idea that the alligator weed had come from the dung was further firmed up when alligator weed was found in the spot where a neighbour had used some of the dung in their vegetable garden, and on a lawn where the dung had been placed before going on the garden.

Subsequently, historic circus sites across Hamilton have been checked for alligator weed with nothing found so far. Still people are being encouraged to contact the council if they have used elephant dung fertiliser in recent years.

Since alligator weed is a “total control pest plant” to be eradicated anywhere in the region, the council has begun work to remove it from the site on the outskirts of Hamilton, with this work expected to carry on for a number of years as the weed is fast growing and notoriously difficult to eradicate.

Because of the risk of accidental spread, people are encouraged not to try to control alligator weed themselves if they discover it. Instead they are urged to call 0800 BIOSECURITY (0800 246 732) and let the council handle it.

Alligator weed is a low-growing, non-woody perennial. Its leaves are generally arranged in opposite pairs or whorls, spaced at intervals along hollow horizontal stems. Stem and leaf sizes vary greatly. They can be very compact when the weed is in lawns or grazed pasture but much larger when growing in water.

·       Our picture shows some alligator weed.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Labour: Little Announces New Shadow Cabinet

“Labour had an impressive intake of fresh faces after last year’s election and newest MPs have now had a year to show what they’re made of. This reshuffle rewards hard work and continues my drive to renew our Caucus line up." More>>


Because Reasons: Someone Reckons David Seymour Is Politician Of The Year

Trans Tasman's 11th annual Roll Call has thrown a curve ball this year, ignoring the likes of John Key, Bill English, and Winston Peters to pick its politician of the year from the ranks of the new generation. More>>


Whaling: NZ Deeply Disappointed By Japan's Decision

“New Zealand is strongly opposed to whaling in the Southern Ocean. We call on Japan to take heed of the 2014 International Court of Justice decision and international scientific advice concerning their whaling activities.” More>>


Relevant Consents Gained: Government Unveils RMA Reform Package

The government has formally hauled down the flag on its attempts to alter the balance of environmental and economic priorities in the Resource Management Act, unveiling a 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill containing reforms that have been largely endorsed by most political parties. More>>


Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Get More From Scoop



More RSS  RSS News AlertsNews Alerts
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news