Eradication Of Rodents

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The introduction and spread of Norway brown rats and other rodents to South Georgia is devastating the island’s environment. Already whole areas have been decimated by rodents, which threaten to penetrate the few remaining rodent-free areas of South Georgia. SGHT's groundbreaking Habitat Restoration Project aims to save the island’s native habitat by eradicating rodents from the entire island.

The impact of rodents on South Georgia

The arrival of rats and other rodents on South Georgia as stowaways on sealing and whaling ships had a catastrophic effect on the island’s native bird populations. Rats eat the eggs and chicks of many ground-nesting bird species. As a result, the main island has been all but abandoned by the storm petrels, prions, diving petrels and blue petrels that once nested there.

The endemic South Georgia Pipit once bred throughout the island. Now it is listed as near-threatened. Its breeding is confined to rodent-free offshore islands and islets, and the few remaining main-island areas that are protected from rodent invasion by sea-level glaciers.

As a result of global warming, South Georgia’s glaciers are retreating rapidly – two glacial barriers have been lost in the last few years alone. Without these barriers, the few remaining rodent-free areas will quickly be overrun and South Georgia’s remaining bird populations will suffer the consequences.

SGHT Habitat Restoration Project aims to eradicate introduced rats and mice from South Georgia by 2015.

Relevant documents and reports can be found here.

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