VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tag archives for islands
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.
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).
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.
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.
When I walked into Tarawa Island’s only air-conditioned coffee shop I was expecting to escape the 90° F heat, enjoy an iced coffee, and—if the Internet signal was strong enough—send an email. Instead I found myself face-to-face with the president of Kiribati. That chance encounter soon turned into a three-day journey to President Anote Tong’s…
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).
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.
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.
Eradicating rodents from islands is only half the battle. After eradication, it is vital to protect the investment by preventing rodents re-establishing. Conservation dogs are an additional monitoring tool.
New Zealand was one of the last places on earth to be colonised by humans, just over 1000 years ago. Ever since, New Zealand has lived the legacy of these impacts.
Life on the Auckland Islands is hard. Just ask the settlers of Hardwicke who in 1849 were part of the shortest lived British settlement ever – 2 years and 9 months. The Maori only lasted 10 more years themselves.
Having just returned from Fernando de Noronha the plight of tropical islands under attack from invasive species is still at the forefront of my thoughts. Can the techniques we have developed in temperate latitudes on uninhabited islands be applied so readily to inhabited tropical islands?
When studying invasive species on a remote island, it helps to know the island’s history. And this one’s good.