Eggs-termination island

09 credit  brian.gratwicke1

The island of South Georgia will resume its brown rat cull this month, using helicopters to continue the world’s largest ever species extermination project.

Over a three-month period, one hundred million poisonous pellets will be scattered across the sub-Antarctic island by three helicopters.

This is the second part of a four-year project that aims to wipe out the invasive species, which has an estimated population of 200 million.

Feeding on the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds, they pose a threat to native species like the South Georgia pipit and pintail.

As well as this, a team of Sami herdsmen are embarking on a cull of 3,000 reindeer, which are also an invasive species on the island.

While the rats scavenge, it is the reindeers’ size and foraging habits that are causing problems: trampling native plants, increasing erosion and destroying the nests and habitats of king penguins and other birds.

Following the first stage of the rat cull, scientists say there has been a rise in seabird numbers and they hope that by removing these invasive species and restoring a more natural ecosystem the island will again be home to more than 100 million birds.

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