Marion Island is the jewel in South Africa’s island crown – it is huge and beautiful, hosts an astonishing array of endemic species and charismatic marine megafauna, and is pristine. Or nearly pristine…
After cats were eradicated from Marion Island in the early 1990s, mice were left as the only introduced mammal there. At the time, no thought was given to tackling mice, even though their impacts on invertebrates such as the flightless moths and weevils, plant communities, nutrient cycles, etc., were gigantic. Little did we know that mice could become such a significant threat to seabirds. Work done at Gough Island demonstrated that mice can wreak devastation on seabird colonies, and there is now good evidence that mouse impacts on seabirds at Marion Island are increasing.
BirdLife South Africa is leading a collaborative effort to eradicate mice from Marion Island. The good news is that the techniques to do this type of conservation work exist and have proven to be effective. Marion remains the largest island ever cleared of cats. Australia’s Macquarie Island is now free of rabbits, rats and mice, the largest island to have a three-species complex eradicated simultaneously, and one of very few where rats and mice have been tackled successfully. South Georgia, the biggest island on which rodent eradication has been attempted to date, was cleared of rats in June 2015. One year later, tests have shown that the project has been succesfull so far. Reports are also flooding in on the incredible way in which the local fauna and flora has bounced back. There are also plans afoot to clear Gough, the celebrity island for mouse impacts on seabirds.
In April 2015, BirdLife South Africa launched an appeal for funding to undertake a feasibility study and risk assessment of an eradication programme.
It is with great joy and excitement that we can announce significant progress on the mouse eradication feasibility research project undertaken on Marion Island. Due to the generous donations of BirdLife South Africa members and supporters, including significant donations (≥R1000) by the individuals listed below, we were able to undertake the necessary research.
New Zealand island-eradication expert John Parkes has authored a report titled: ‘Eradication of House Mice Mus musculus from Marion Island: a review of feasibility, constraints and risks’. His assessment concluded that there are no technical obstacles to eradication. We do however need to do some further research, to answer key questions relating to the logistics of the mission. How do we avoid or minimize non-target impacts on some of the birds which will be at risk? How much bait will be needed? When is the best time to start the baiting? These questions are being developed into a research plan that we hope to put into action in 2017.
To view the report, and read up in more detail, please download the report below
Whilst we are sincerely grateful for the funding we have already received, the project is yet to be completed and any further donations would be greatly appreciated.
For more information, please contact Dr Ross Wanless, Seabird Programme Manager at email@example.com
Frank & Gail Reuvers
Prof. Salomi Louw
Dr Anli Theron
Ed & Liz Harris
Charl van der Merwe Trust
Ineke & Peter Huggins
BirdLife Free State