Two years after implementing the rodent eradication program on Seymour Norte and Mosquera, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Island Conservation determine the islands are free of invasive rodents.
3 June 2021
The Galapagos National Park Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Water, together with the not-for-profit organization Island Conservation have declared Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera islet free of invasive rodents. These conservation actions have been carried out over the last two years, with the intention of eradicating invasive vertebrates that affect native biodiversity and preserving the island ecosystems.
In January 2019, park rangers, Island Conservation staff, and drone pilots from Envicto Technologies Ltd. used groundbreaking drone technology to eliminate the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus) from Seymour Norte and Mosquera. The drone was equipped with a dispersal bucket and followed GPS-guided transects to distribute a conservation bait manufactured by Bell Laboratories across the island and available rodent habitat. Following initial implementation, bait was placed in stations along the coastline, ensuring no rodents re-invaded the island.
Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, confirmed:
After two years of waiting, we can declare these islands are free of rodents. This project has given the expected results, according to the planning and according to the highest protocols for these cases. Galapagos, once again, is a benchmark in terms of the protection of this globally important ecosystem. The impact of this management activity was recorded through appropriate monitoring .”
Víctor Carrión, Ecuador Program Manager at Island Conservation, noted:
In collaboration with the team of experts from the Galapagos National Park Directorate, strict biosecurity measures have been implemented to prevent future invasive rodent reintroductions while enabling tourists to visit Seymour Norte and Mosquera safely.”
As a long-term preventive measure, a biosecurity barrier consisting of 289 bait stations will remain installed to prevent a reinvasion of rodents from Santa Cruz or Baltra.
Free of invasive rodents, Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera Islet will be able to recover; endemic and native plants and animals will be able to fulfill their ecological roles, guaranteeing the hatching of nests and survival of birds and reptiles, including Galapagos Land Iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, and Swallowed-tailed Gulls (the only nocturnal gull on the planet). Restoration also contributes to protecting the habitat of the Lava Gull, one of the rarest species of gulls in the world, categorized as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This project was made possible due to support from Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, Silversea Cruises, Galapagos Biodiversity & Education for Sustainability fund Ecoventura – Charles Darwin Foundation, Metropolitan Touring, Fondo Especies Invasoras Galapagos, Rapid Response Facility, Bell Labs, International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, individual donors that gave their support through the SOS North Seym
About the Partners
The Galapagos National Park Directorate, established in 1959, covers 97% of the Galapagos Islands’ land surface area while the Galapagos Marine Reserve protects 138,000 km2 / 53,000 square miles of surrounding ocean. The Galapagos National Park Directorate is responsible for the conservation of the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the island and marine ecosystems. They also regulate the community’s sustainable use of Galapagos’ natural resources. The archipelago’s unique fauna and flora inspired Charles Darwin’s origin of species and continues to be a living laboratory of evolution. Acknowledging their global importance, the Galapagos Islands were declared the first UNESCO World Heritage site, a Biosphere Reserve and most recently a Blue Park. Learn more at www.galapagos.gob.ec/en/
Island Conservation is a global, not-for-profit conservation organization that prevents extinctions and restores islands. We work where the concentration of both biodiversity and species extinction is the greatest – islands. Removing a primary threat – introduced invasive vertebrates – is one of the most critical interventions for saving threatened plants and animals. Native island species and ecosystems often recover with little additional intervention, and when animals have gone locally extinct, we reintroduce them. Island Conservation assists land managers and local communities to implement their visions. To date, we have successfully restored 65 islands worldwide, benefiting 1,218 populations of 504 species and subspecies. Learn more at www.islandconservation.org/
Why Islands – Learn about islands as a conservation priority.
- Islands are at the epicenter of the extinction crisis, as the loci of 75% of reptile, bird, amphibian, and mammal extinctions combined.
- Invasive vertebrate species are a leading cause of extinction on islands, contributing to 86% of recorded extinctions.
- More than 1,200 invasive mammal eradications have been attempted on islands worldwide, with an average success rate of 85%
Advancing Drone Technology
- Seymour Norte and Mosquera Islands were the first instances of a drone being used to eradicate invasive vertebrates from an island, serving as a proof-of-concept.
- The technology was developed by Envico Technologies Ltd. (formerly Environment Conservation Technologies Ltd.) in collaboration with Island Conservation and other leading island restoration experts.
- Based on lessons learned, Envico and partners have made technological advancements to increase drone lift capacity and longer flight times.
- In 2021, projects on three island groups across the Pacific will be implemented using drones.
- On Tetiaroa Atoll, eradications have been conducted on three islands by hand broadcast over the past few years. Island Conservation and Tetiaroa Society will implement a drone-based operation on the remaining islets, where it is not feasible to conduct a hand-based project.
- Kamaka Island in the Southeast region of French Polynesia will be implemented using drones by BirdLife International, Island Conservation, and SOP Manu, benefitting at-risk seabirds (especially the Endangered Polynesian Storm-petrel, Nesofregetta fuliginosa), endemic plants, and the nearshore marine ecosystem.
Read the original press release from Island Conservation at https://www.islandconservation.org/invasive-rodents-no-longer-threaten-wildlife-seymour-norte-island-mosquera-islet/
Media contact: Emily Heber – email@example.com, 831-316-4047
Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021