Friday, 5 August 2016

Caribbean island launches plan to remove invasive rats and goats

Mongabay: Redonda’s invasive black rats and long-horned goats have transformed the once-forested island into a ‘moonscape’, conservationists say

Shreya Dasgupta for Mongabay, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Monday 1 August 201616.51 BST

The remote Caribbean island of Redonda, part of Antigua and Barbuda, is home to numerous species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. It is also home to invasive black rats and non-native goats that are wiping out the island’s native, rare wildlife, conservationists say.

To help the island’s flora and fauna, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is now initiating a plan to remove all goats and rats from the island. The Redonda Restoration Program program has been formed by the Antigua & Barbuda Government and the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) in collaboration with organizations like Fauna & Flora International, British Mountaineering Council, Island Conservation and Wildlife Management International Ltd.

“This work will dramatically transform an entire island ecosystem,” Sophia Steele of Fauna & Flora International told Mongabay. “It will save a number of rare endemic species from otherwise almost certain extinction, such as the Critically Endangered Redonda tree lizard, which currently finds itself living on an island almost devoid of trees.”

The island currently has a population of over 5,000 invasive black rats that prey on the island’s native species. The rugged island is also home to around 60 long-horned goats that humans brought to Redonda more than a century ago. The rats and goats are believed to have been introduced into the island by a guano mining community, which was disbanded after World War I.

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