So here we go:
On 23 March 2015, despite turbulent sub-Antarctic weather, the final bait pellets were sown via helicopter on the island of South Georgia by an 18-strong group of international specialists known as ‘Team Rat’ in what is the world’s largest rat eradication project to date, funded by small UK-based NGO, the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT).
Only days later South Georgia was announced as the fifth UK Overseas Territory to be included in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This ratification to the CBD was significantly aided by the dedication and hard work of the Trust and its commitment to protect the biodiversity of the island, by ridding it of invasive rodents preying on native seabird populations.
South Georgia Heritage Trust and its USA sister organisation Friends of South Georgia Island are hosting a press conference including members of the now returned ‘Team Rat’. The press conference will provide a comprehensive update on the latest phase of the Habitat Restoration Project which successfully spread 95 tonnes of bait over an area of 364 square kilometres, including a 227 kilometre stretch of sinuous coastline.
There remains a further two year monitoring period before the project can be marked a complete success, but it is possible that South Georgia is now rodent-free. There have already been significant discoveries and sightings of native species recovering on the island which will be discussed during the press conference.
Go Team Rat! And 'Boo!' to invasive rodents. Okay, rats can be a serious problem when accidentally introduced into an environment where they have no natural predators. But am I the only one who is highly suspicious about the gratuitous, and not entirely comprehensible use of the word 'ratification' in the second paragraph? Could we have a PR person with a sense of humour? Probably not.
The press conference is on 25 June, so there may be even more excitement at that point.