VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
I have just returned from the second World Seabird Conference #WSC2 held in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of October. The conference held by the World Seabird Union was a great opportunity to learn all about the recent research and conservation being undertaken on these incredible animals.
Just before leaving the Seychelles I had the opportunity to visit Desroches, a sandy coral atoll cay in the outer islands – very different to the inner granitic islands. Desroches is managed by Island Development Company (IDC) and contains a 5-star hotel and a conservation center and team from the Island Conservation Society (ICS).
Aride Island is the wildlife highlight of a visit to the Inner Granitics of the Seychelles, with more bird species than any other island. Ten species of seabird are found on this tiny 68 hectare island.
Curieuse Island in the Seychelles is steeped in all kinds of history. Lying just a kilometre off the coast of Praslin this 286 hectare island lies in its own marine national park and is named after the French ship La Curieuse, which arrived along with the ship La Digue
La Digue is the laid-back island of the Seychelles. At just over 1,000 hectares and full of postcard beaches around every corner, its possible to travel around the entire island in one day – and the mode of choice is the bicycle.
As I continue my journey through the Seychelles I visit North Island, or Île du Nord, touted as the most expensive luxury island resort in the world. The island was actually purchased in 1997 specifically to restore the ecosystem, and this work is made possible by the resort.
Sainte Anne is a 219 hectare island lying just off four kilometres from the coast of Mahé, Seychelles. It is the largest island of the Ste Anne Marine National Park and was originally discovered on Saint Anne’s Day in 1742. It was subsequently the first of the Seychelles islands to be settled by the French before they took up residency on Mahé.
I have just landed on Mahé Island, the main island of the Seychelles, where I will be spending the next two and a half weeks working with the Island Biodiversity & Conservation centre of the University of Seychelles, the NGO Island Conservation Society, and exploring the grantic islands of the Inner Seychelles. The Seychelles and New Zealand share a history of similar island conservation trajectories.
Although it’s the biodiversity that brings me to some of the most remote islands of the planet, the inhabited islands always have as rich a cultural history, equally at risk in this modernised world of mobility. Norfolk Island is no exception. There have been four distinct settlement phases of Norfolk Island.
Because of the great success in rat control across the island, its actually very hard to find a rat when you want one on Norfolk Island. Long-standing citizen Beryl Evans came to the rescue with a litter of rats she removed from her house. Beryl is also the most recently published scientist on Norfolk Island with her lifetime’s work tagging Tasman boobies (Sula dactylatra tasmani) in the latest issue of the journal Corella.
Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia, currently governed by its own general assembly. Norfolk Island is the last island around New Zealand from which we need a genetic sample of the invasive rats to complete our phylogeographic map of invasive rats around New Zealand and neighbouring islands.
It was reported today in New Zealand that during an authorised cull of overly abundant pukekos on Motutapu Island reserve four critically endangered and somewhat closely appearing takahe were also shot. Anyone choosing to kill a target, whether for hunting or pest control, or any other reason, must always act in the most responsible way possible, as the taking of another individual’s life should never be done lightly.
Without island biosecurity pests will rapidly recolonize islands from which they have been eradicated, or worse still colonise islands for the first time. Only with a rigorous audited biosecurity programme can pest-free status be maintained.
Colleagues from Mexico have just announced the successful eradication of introduced mammals from the massive Banco Chinchorro reef complex off the Yucatan peninsula. Mexico has aggressively tackled the problem of invasive species eradication on islands over the past decade.
This weekend the New Zealand Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society had their 92nd Annual General Meeting in Wellington.