VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Mice have been on Antipodes Island for a century now, but this month marks the beginning of the end for them. 65 tonnes of bait will be shortly transported to the island for the eradication five years in planning to commence.
Islands can have strange histories but few are more obscure than that of Tromelin Island of the Îles Éparses in the Western Indian Ocean.
Conserving the rarest species on the planet can be a complex problem, and a silver bullet solution has so far been evasive. However, like the silver bullet which killed mythical creatures, mammal eradications appear to solve this problem and indeed save species.
Travelling from São Paulo to Belo Horizonte, tucked away in the rural lands, is Inhotim. My Brazilian colleagues travelling with me explain they have wanted to visit for years. So we make the detour.
The icon of Fernando de Noronha, the tropic bird, emblazoned on tourism material, is gradually going extinct. The red-billed tropic bird (Phaethon aethereus) is nearly extinct at less than ten individuals. The white-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) is relegated to a second class citizen on offshore rock stacks, as are other avian citizens such as masked boobies (Sula dactylatra).
I’ve found my way to the end of the world, or more precisely Ushuaia on the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. I’m most interested in seeing some of its most recent immigrants, the Canadian beavers (Castor canadensis).
The latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology just released documents how in fifty years the effects of invasive rodents have been reversed, along with some of the current exciting advances in rodent ecology and management.
It’s the end of the grey-faced petrel breeding season in New Zealand and hugely exciting to see the seabird chicks emerging from their underground burrows for the first time literally stretching their wings. It’s also equal parts horrendous to see neighbourhood cats walking at leisure through the sensitive breeding grounds of these birds recovering from centuries of hunting.
Island conservation often requires evaluating one species against another. Cat versus seabird, rat versus reptile, mouse versus invertebrate. Although scientists can document the evidence of impacts, e.g. the staggering rates of declines in native species enacted by introduced predators, conservation biologists must arbitrate what the moral course of action is. In a paper accepted this week in the journal Conservation Biology, myself and an international consortium of conservation biologists grapple precisely with these complex moral and ethical issues in invasive species eradication on islands.
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.