Eradicating black rats from the Chagos – working towards the whole archipelago

The Chagos Archipelago comprises some 58 islands covering 5,000 ha in the centre of the Indian Ocean. Black rats (Rattus rattus) were introduced about 230 years ago and have likely had a severe impact on the native terrestrial fauna, which is dominated by seabirds and land crabs. Most of the archipelago’s terrestrial land mass is vegetated with old coconut plantations, with over 75% of the native forest cleared for coconut from 26 of the largest islands. Likely as a result of this colonisation and clearance, at least 30 islands have rats present (95.3% of the Chagos landmass) along with feral cats (Felis catus) on 62%, which suppresses the recovery of native fauna and flora. Efforts at rat eradication include the failed attempt on Eagle Island (252 ha) in the northern Chagos Archipelago in 2006 and the recent success of a groundbased eradication on Île Vache Marine in 2014, where two applications of brodifacoum poison were hand-spread at a rate of 18 kg/ha. Two islets on the nearby Salomon atoll were also cleared of black rats during the same operation with single bait applications. The 2014 operation was successful on what are regarded as difficult islands for rat eradication, being ‘wet’ tropical islands with land crabs and coconut plantations present, and has engendered confidence to proceed with additional rat eradications on other northern Chagos islands.
Harper Grant , Carr Pete , Pitman Helen .
978-2-8317-1961-0 978-2-8317-1962-7
atoll, Birgus, Chagos, eradication, hand-broadcast, Rattus, seabirds, tropical, Invasive species, Invasive species eradication, Islands, Species management, Biological diversity, Biological invasions, Case studies, Proceedings