Saving albatrosses on a sub-Antarctic Island: a radio interview with Dr Anton Wolfaardt, Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager

Anton Wolfaardt on Gough

 Dr Anton Wolfaardt, Project Manager, Mouse-Free Marion Project, with a Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena chick on Gough Island

Dr Anton Wolfaardt manages the Mouse-Free Marion Project that aims to eradicate the albatross-killing House Mice Mus musculus on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  He was recently interviewed by Ben Goldsmith in his Rewilding the World series, starting by saying “All of us involved in the project are driven by the opportunity to make a real difference for this special part of the planet.”

Dead Wanderer Marion April 2023 Michelle Risi 1 shrunk A Vulnerable Wandering Albatross D. exulans killed by mice on Marion Island, April 2023, photograph by Michelle Risi

A summary of Anton’s 33-minute interview follows:

“Eradicating giant mice from South Africa's Marion Island, a vital haven for seabirds.  The vast, wild Southern Ocean is home to albatrosses, petrels and other remarkable seabirds which wander for years on end in search of food.

Only to breed do the seabirds of the Southern Ocean need land, of which there are just a handful of tiny specs [sic].  One of these is South Africa's distant Marion Island, which has become overrun by invasive mice, introduced inadvertently by sailors at least two centuries ago.  The mice eat the eggs, young and even the adult seabirds.

Now Anton Wolfaardt of BirdLife South Africa and his team have a wild plan to eradicate the mice, with the hope that it will allow seabirds to surge back to their historic abundance.”

023 BenDilley Marion2015 BEN 2718e
The culprit.  A House Mouse on Marion Island, photograph by Ben Dilley

Anton will be well known to the ACAP community, having been a Convenor of its Seabird Bycatch Working Group (SBWG) from 2013 to 2020 (click here).

Anton Wolfaardt ACAP MFM certificateAnton Wolfaardt holds his Mouse-Free Marion Sponsor a Hectare certificate received in appreciation of his leadership of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 09 May 2024

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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