Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Tristan Albatross: worst breeding season yet. NEW UPDATE

The Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena of Gough Island in the South Atlantic has had in recent years a consistently low breeding success, due to introduced House Mice Mus musculus regularly killing its chicks during the winter months.

Whole-island counts conducted during incubation and again at the large chick stage this year have now revealed the poorest breeding season yet recorded. Of 1764 incubating pairs present in January only 245 chicks were counted in late September, giving a breeding success (assuming no further mortality) of only 13.9%. This is about one fifth of what should be expected for a great albatross and is clearly not sufficient to sustain the population. In one area of the island with 248 incubating birds counted only two chicks have survived! In 2007 overall breeding success was higher at 33.4%, with 427 chicks counted (but still far too low).

The 2008 season results confirm it is essential to eradicate Gough's mice as soon as possible to save the Tristan Albatross from eventual extinction.

Go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/projects/tristandacunha/publications.asp for information on Gough's mice and the birds they attack.

Conservation research on the ACAP-listed Tristan Albatross at Gough Island is conducted jointly by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK) and the University of Cape Town (South Africa). Support comes from the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, Birds Australia, the Tristan da Cunha Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and the UK Overseas Territories Environment Programme.

For two more recent news items on Gough's killer mice see:

http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2008/12/gough_island.html

and

http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-205319

To view a night-time video of mice attacking a Tristan Albatross chick go to:

http://www.arkive.org/news/20081215-albatross-under-threat-from-predatory-mice.html.

News from John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer and Richard Cuthbert, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Posted 26 September 2008, last updated 29 January 2009