Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Helping threatened shearwaters and petrels in the Galápagos by getting rid of rats

The Galápagos National Park Service and the NGO Island Conservation reported last week that the 490-ha island of Rábida is now considered free of Norway or Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus following a poison bait drop by helicopter in January 2011 (click here).

Following on from Rábida and some nearby islets treated last year the Service worked with Island Conservation and the Charles Darwin Foundation to drop poison bait by helicopter on Pinzón (1812 ha) and the nearby 10-ha islet of Plaza Sur last and this month in an attempt to eradicate Black or Ship Rats R. rattus (click here).

It has also been reported that the Service aims to attempt a rat eradication on 172-km² Floreana in 2014 (click here) as part of a programme that is set to continue until 2020 to remove introduced rodents from islands and islets in the Galápagos.  Floreana is inhabited which will complicate the eradication exercise.  Click here to read this news in Spanish.

All these efforts are expected to help the burrowing Galápagos Shearwater Puffinus subalaris and the Critically Endangered Galápagos Petrel Pterodroma phaeopygia which are both endemic to the Galápagos.  In one study predation by rats was found to be the primary cause of nest failure in the Galápagos Petrel. So far predator control has involved intensive rat baiting around known colonies on those islands where the petrel breeds, including on Floreana (where the shearwater also breeds).

In 2011 Ecuador informed the Sixth Meeting of ACAP's Advisory Committee of its desire to nominate the Galápagos Petrel for listing within the Agreement (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 December 2012