Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Research starts on the introduced mammals of France’s sub-Antarctic Amsterdam Island prior to developing an eradication plan

Over the last few decades efforts, mostly successful, have been made to eradicate introduced predatory mammals on many of the Southern Ocean’s sub-Antarctic islands, notably New Zealand’s Campbell Island and Australia’s Macquarie Island among others. For some islands (e.g. New Zealand’s Antipodes) final results of eradication attempts are still awaited. Plans are being made to rid the UK’s Gough Island and South Africa’s Marion Island of their introduced House Mice Mus musculus over the next three years. An ambitious plan to rid New Zealand’s Auckland Island of its feral pigs Sus scrofus domesticus and cats Felis catus, as well as of its mice, is also currently being developed.

News is now to hand that the French have commenced a year’s research on the feral cats, Norway Rats Rattus norvegicus and House Mice on Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean (click here). Population estimates of rodents will be made, and cats will be monitored with camera traps.

Amsterdam Island, photograph from Thierry Micol

According to the article, the Norway Rat is suspected of being a carrier for the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, responsible for avian cholera which kills chicks of the globally Endangered Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri, on the island, of which two- thirds of the world population breeds on Amsterdam’s Entrecasteaux cliffs. Rats will be sampled for Pasteurella.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross with its chick, photograph by Jeremy Demay

The intention is for the research to inform planning for the simultaneous eradication of the three alien mammals. The island’s feral cattle Bos taurus were eradicated in 2010 (click here).

ACAP Latest News will report on progress towards a pest-free Amsterdam Island as information becomes available, in the expectation that in time it will join the growing panoply of pest-free islands in the Southern Ocean.

Read more here.

References:

TAAF 2010. Plan de gestion 2011 - 2015 Réserve naturelle des Terres australes françaises. Saint Pierre, La Réunion: Terres australes et antarctiques françaises. 35 pp.

Weimerskirch, H. 2004. Diseases threaten Southern Ocean albatrosses. Polar Biology 27: 374-379.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 January 2018

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