The South Georgia Heritage Trust saves seabird sanctuary from rats

Scottish charity the South Georgia Heritage Trust has been successful in its campaign to eradicate rodents that were threatening a globally important seabird sanctuary in South Georgia, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic.

I smell a rat: The charity hopes it has eradicated the island's rat problem
I smell a rat: The charity hopes it has eradicated the island's rat problem

The project has been undertaken by the South Georgia Heritage Trust, a small charity based in Dundee, with a campaign that has been funded entirely by donations raised by SGHT and its US counterpart, Friends of South Georgia Island.

Donors include UK, US and Norwegian trusts and foundations, individual supporters, the UK Government and support from US and UK corporations.

Planning for the project began in 2007, and the fieldwork was undertaken in three phases in 2011, 2013 and 2015 by an international team of experts in eradication work.

The total cost of the project, including the monitoring work that is still to come, is £7.5m.

Howard Pearce, chair of SGHT’s international board of trustees, said: "Two further years of work are required to monitor the impact of the baiting we have carried out to date. This is vital before South Georgia can officially be declared free of rodents. Fundraising efforts must continue to support this vital survey work.

"We have several hundred thousand pounds sterling still to raise before we can declare that our work on South Georgia is done."

Project director, Professor Tony Martin of the University of Dundee, said: "For the first time in two centuries the prospect of a much brighter, rodent-free future for the wildlife of South Georgia is within sight."

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