Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

** UPDATE 8 June **: No rats sighted since this year's poison bait drop on a sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic

Issue 7 of Project News, the Newsletter of the Habitat Restoration Project of the South Georgia* Heritage Trust, reveals there have been no reports of rats or rat sign up to the end of May in the vicinity of the buildings at King Edward Point, within the the treated area of 128 km2.
The June issue of the newsletter also gives information on popular publications and a documentary film set to emerge on Phase 1 of the project, of hand-baiting techniques used in and around the derelict buildings of the Gryviken whaling station, and reports on the island's endemic ducks and pipits, both expected to benefit from the removal of rats [8 June 2011].
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The Second Phase of the rat eradication programme is due to commence in 2013, with completion due in 2015.  With 12 500 ha of the 80 000-ha rat-infested area now likely to be clear of rodents, the project is already the largest operation of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world.

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Phase One of the ambitious project to eradicate introduced rats from South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in the South Atlantic has been completed well ahead of schedule.

Despite damage caused early on to a bait bucket when it was dropped into the sea, the first phase of the project was successfully completed in only 26 days instead of in the eight weeks originally allocated.  Greene Peninsula, Thatcher Peninsula and Mercer Bay were baited first.  The recently infested Saddle Island (on the north-west of the island) was the final area to be baited.

Areas around buildings were hand-baited, as were coastal caves from inflatable craft operating up against the rocks.  With no rats seen in the treated areas, there is optimism the bait drop has been 100% successful.

Dead rats have been collected for genetic analysis and to prevent them from being eaten by scavenging birds.  Small numbers of ducks and skuas were found that had died either from directly eating the poison bait or from secondary poisoning after eating poisoned rats. Early signs indicate that non-target species losses will not be excessive.

A Wandering Albatross with South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in the background.  Photograph courtesy of Sally Poncet

The helicopters are now being moth-balled on the island to await Phase Two of the rodent eradication programme.

Click here to read more about the project.  If you would like to help raise funds for Phase Two go to http://www.sght.org/Sponsor-a-hectare.

Meanwhile, after a potential hiccup with the supply ship Aurora Australis being slowed by heavy ice farther south earlier this month, the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project is back on track with the eradication team now expected to arrive on ‘Macca' by month-end (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 April 2011, updated 15 April 2011 and 8 June 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.