July 2010 – Having successfully eradicated the alien Black Rat Rattus rattus from North Island in June 2005 as part of its island rehabilitation programme, North Island recently took the opportunity to reassess this rat-free status five years later. Alien species and island expert, Gideon Climo, travelled from his native New Zealand to provide an independent perspective on the status of the Island and the reinvasion prevention measures in place.
Gideon’s personal involvement in North Island’s rat eradication efforts of 2003 and 2005 meant he was familiar with the Island and its supply and access procedures and could rapidly assess just how robust preventative measures guarding against reinvasion are and where the Island might be vulnerable.
The purpose of Gideon’s visit was to:
1) Confirm whether North Island was indeed still rat-free.
2) Review the alien invader prevention measures set up in 2005 and subsequent refinements.
3) Provide additional training to Island staff and refinement of processes with new trapping equipment and techniques.
We are overjoyed to announce that after a comprehensive and rigorous assessment we can officially confirm that the Island remains free of all alien species of rodent. This is an incredible achievement, with North Island remaining the largest tropical island that includes hilly terrain in the world to have achieved this feat.
The announcement comes as a huge vindication and recognition of the work of the Island’s environmental team and their meticulous overseeing of all procedures relating to traffic between the main island of Mahé and North Island, whether this be by barge or helicopter. It is also testament to the commitment of the entire staff that these sometimes strenuous procedures are adhered to at all times.
This commitment has meant that over the past five years, the only three rats that managed to penetrate cargo holds were discovered before they could invade the Island and threaten its reintroduced and naturally recolonising endemic bird and reptile species. We are thrilled that the Noah’s Ark Project has continued to go from strength to strength.
Notes to editor:
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