Tuesday 21 February 2012

South Georgia seabird sanctuary receives £250,000 to eradicate rats

World's largest rat eradication project awarded Defra funding 
February 2012: South Georgia Heritage Trust has been awarded £250,000 of UK Government money to help fund an ambitious rat eradication programme aimed at stopping catastrophic devastation of the island's unique wildlife.
The UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) grant will help secure the survival of one of the world's most important seabird sanctuaries on the sub Antarctic island of South Georgia.
Ambitious three-year planThe habitat restoration project is an ambitious three-year plan to eradicate rats, which originally arrived on South Georgia as stowaways on sealing and whaling ships, but whose recent population explosion is having a devastating effect on the island's wildlife and ecology, especially its endemic bird populations.
Following years of planning, a highly successful pilot phase of the project was conducted in 2011, which witnessed the successful removal of rats from a tenth of the total infected area. 
The only effective way to eradicate rodents on an island the size of South Georgia is by air and two helicopters were used to deliver the rat bait. It took years of planning, but in just 26 days an 11-strong team of international experts spread 48 tonnes of bait over 128 sq km. 

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