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Home / Science / South Georgia Island was finally free from swarms of rats that slept on rare birds

South Georgia Island was finally free from swarms of rats that slept on rare birds



The mostly abandoned town of Grytviken on the South Georgian island.
Photo: Jens Bludau (Wikimedia Commons)

Exterminators have successfully fumigated the eggs and chicks of two species of birds that have not lived anywhere else since the invasion of the remote South Georgia offshore area of ​​South Georgia in the South Atlantic since 1775 found on the planet, and many others.

The $ 13.5 million in successful rodent cleaning is largely due to the work of the South Georgia Heritage Trust, which officially declared the island rat-free this week, New Scientist wrote. There are 33 species of birds on the island, all of which, like any creature, could benefit from not having swarms of rats trying to break their young. The removal of the rats, however, is particularly critical to the long-term survival of the South Georgia birdie and the South Georgia pintail, which must nest on or under the ground along with the millions of other birds on the completely treeless island.

The project involved the use of helicopters to cover the island with rodent baits, with the active phase of the project dating back to 2011. New Scientist wrote:

Since 2011, teams have resisted extreme gusts of wind through rain, snow and rain hostile conditions to perform three stages of luring baits on overgrown areas where rodents separated by glaciers are found.

Three helicopters, including one that was once registered with Jackie Onassis, were used to throw bait from funnels over 108,723 acres (269,000 acres) of the island – a range eight times larger than any other eradication area anywhere in the world, said the Trust.

To confirm that the mass dispatch of r The bait had indeed been successful to eradicate the infestation. The teams had to screen over 4,600 detectors to confirm that they showed no signs of rat activity, New Scientist added. They also brought three trained dogs to sniff out the remaining rat enclaves.

According to the BBC, the project was partially possible because the numerous glaciers that crossed the island of South Georgia isolated rat populations in pockets that could be individually eradicated.

"We were in suspense, would there be a rest enclave anywhere?" Said Mike Richardson, chair of the Steering Committee, the BBC. "But I'm pleased to say that in the last six months, not a single sign of a rodent has been found, and we know that island is now free of rodents."

Project Director Dickie Hall added, "Dogs have an incredible sense of smell You can see rodent scent of a few meters or even a few tens of meters, if the conditions are right.When we go through a piece of habitat, we can be very confident with these dogs to find rodents if they are present. "

While the island is now officially released as a rat, they could return at any time, even if only one pregnant woman is able to land it, along with the thousands of tourists who arrive each year. The BBC wrote that tourists are only allowed to land on inflatable rubber boats carrying luggage and clothing that has been inspected, and all government and military ships that come ashore must have rodent traps and a dog cargo check is now being tested

A resettlement by locals is not considered a problem, writes the Guardian since its former population of 2000 left the place after the collapse of the whaling industry and the first remaining residents are "two scientific research stations run by the British Antarctic Survey "According to Popular Mechanics, there are about two dozen full-time residents left.

[New Scientist/BBC]


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