Last month a helicopter from a visiting ship was used to survey the Barff Peninsula on South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* for any remaining alien Reindeer Rangifer tarandus after two seasons of hunting during which over 6600 animals were removed (click here). Reindeer were introduced nearly a century ago by Norwegian whalers. Twenty-one animals were seen from the air towards the northern tip of the peninsula during the flight (click here). Two Norwegian marksmen were to have arrived on the island earlier this month to shoot these last few animals.
A Reindeer on South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)*, photograph by Kirk Zufelt
Meanwhile on the rodent eradication scene the South Georgia Heritage Trust has been awarded a quarter of a million pounds towards the final phase of its Habitat Restoration Project from the Darwin Plus Fund (click here). The grant will contribute towards personnel, travel, accommodation and operating costs of Team Rat’s efforts to eradicate Norwegian or Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus and House Mice Mus musculus from the island and for assessing the recovery of the endemic and Near Endangered South Georgia Pipit Anthus antarcticus.
The Habitat Restoration Project commenced in 2011 and has been estimated at costing around UK£ 7.5 million in total. Phase three is now underway with the dropping of poison bait by helicopter in the island’s southern region expected to start next month (click here).
A Team Rat helicopter spreads poison bait
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 January 2015
*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.