Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Ship? Check! Helicopters? Check! Bait? Check! Eradicating rodents from seabird islands on a global scale

Over the last few years, efforts to eradicate introduced rodents and other mammalian invaders from seabird islands have moved up yet another notch, in terms of complexity, island size, numbers of species to eradicate and island remoteness.  Current efforts to rid Macquarie Island and South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* of such pests are the most notable for islands that support breeding colonies of ACAP-listed species.  These complex eradication programmes have been regularly reported on in ACAP Latest News on this web site.

Another massive effort is currently being made to eradicate rodents on a suite of well-scattered seabird islands in the Pacific Ocean, utilizing a single ocean-going vessel which has been moving sequentially from island to island.  The islands include the USA's Palmyra Atoll in the North Pacific where the 25 islets that comprise the atoll were aerially baited to rid them of introduced Black Rats Rattus rattus in June (click here), and, this month, the UK's Henderson Island, a World Heritage Site in the South Pacific, where the target is the Pacific Rat R. exulans (click here).

The Pacific restoration projects are being undertaken from the M.V. Aquila, on a 27 000-km voyage.  Between Palmyra and Henderson the ship also worked at the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati.

No ACAP-listed species are being helped by these specific eradications.  However, the efforts still makes for heartening reading and they will surely help in developing and expanding the needed skills and knowledge base for future efforts, such as ridding UK's Gough Island in the South Atlantic of its "killer mice", and so saving the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena from likely extinction.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 August 2011

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.