A setback for the Henderson Island rat eradication?

Henderson Island is a World Heritage Site in the South Pacific, part of the United Kingdom's Overseas Territory of Pitcairn.  Last year an aerial poison bait drop by helicopter aimed to eradicate the island's Polynesian Rats or Kiore Rattus exulans.

Although Henderson supports no ACAP-listed species, it does have important breeding populations of other procellariiform seabirds - and the successes or not of alien eradication efforts on seabird islands world-wide all help inform future attempts at islands that do have ACAP-listed breeders.

Unfortunately, a positive rat sighting was reported on Henderson in late March (click here).  A follow-up team is set to visit the island and so we must hope it is of an isolated individual and not the founder of a new population:

"Worryingly, we received news at the end of last week of a reliable sighting of a rat on the island earlier this month.  We are arranging for a team to travel to Henderson to assess the situation and establish how many rats are present.  There is a possibility that this rat arrived on Henderson after the eradication operation.  We will have more information in the next few weeks.  We'll then determine next steps in consultation with experts from the Island Eradication Advisory Group and the New Zealand team who mounted the original operation."

The first-hand report of the rat sighting (with a blurred photograph) can be read at http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/04/28/mike-fays-pitcairn-journal-tragic-sighting/

Click here to read more about the Henderson rat-eradication operation and to access its newsletter, Henderson Island News.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 May 2012

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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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