Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

At least 15 Reindeer remain on a South Atlantic seabird island following a two-year eradication programme

Efforts to eradicate introduced Reindeer Rangifer tarandus from South Georgia (Isla Georgias del Sur)* in the South Atlantic took place over the last two austral summers with over 6600 animals killed from the two herds that then existed (click here).

According to the report of this year’s exercise at least eight females and calves survived in the Barff Peninsula region, with the intention to remove them by shooting early next year, leading to a Reindeer-free island after three years of effort.  A helicopter was deployed from a visiting vessel last month to look for these few remaining Reindeer.  Fifteen animals were photographed together among the snow in Penguin Bay (click here).

The last 15 Reindeer?

The removal of nearly all the Reindeer from South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* is already leading to vegetation recovery from grazing and trampling.  This is expected to improve the habitat for burrowing petrels, including the ACAP-listed and Vulnerable White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis.  “Projects have been established to monitor vegetation and bird communities to track the recovery of the island’s ecosystems after the eradication. Although it will take a number of years for the full benefits of the eradication to be realised, there are already signs of vegetation recovery.”

A Reindeer on South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* before th eradication effort, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

The history of the island’s Reindeer, first introduced from Norway in 2011 "as a reminder of home and for recreational hunting", is depicted in a set of four postage stamps issued earlier this month.  Click here to view the stamps and accompanying text.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 October 2014

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

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