Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ascension : Seabirds Succeed on Ascension Island

Ascension Island, a small, remote, volcanic island in the South Atlantic, is rich in unique flora and fauna. When it was first inhabited in 1815, it was thought to host 20 million individual seabirds, including the Ascension frigatebird, a globally threatened species found nowhere else in the world.

Following a 98% crash in numbers, the island seabird population decreased to around 400,000 individuals, mostly confined to offshore stacks and inaccessible cliffs.

The seabird population on the tropical UK Overseas Territory had been devastated by feral cats which were introduced onto the island in the early 19th Century to control introduced rats and mice.

Ascension Seabird Restoration Project

So far, the Ascension Seabird Restoration Project has encouraged 726 pairs of five species of seabird, including brown noddies, masked boobies and red-billed tropicbirds, to return and nest on mainland Ascension Island.

A recipe for success

The Ascension Seabird Restoration Project, implemented by the Ascension Island Government, and assisted by the RSPB with £500,000 funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has since 2001 removed feral cats from Ascension Island. Since February 2004, no feral cats have been seen on the island, encouraging the prompt return of the seabirds. Since this date, the island has run an intensive monitoring programme which has confirmed that the island is feral cat free.

No comments: