12 Apr 2010

Signs good for Samoa rat eradication project

10:01 am on 12 April 2010

A rat eradication project on Samoa's Nu'utele Island appears to be working.

Six months ago a New Zealand helicopter was deployed to drop rat bait on Nu'utele and Nu'ulua in the Aleipata group in order to protect valuable native wildlife from the Pacific rat.

A follow-up visit last month found no sign of the rat but the project adviser, Dr David Butler, says it's too early to be sure that the rat has been eradicated.

But Dr Butler says he's optimistic because of the amount of fruit on the ground and the number of ground doves, Samoa's rarest bird.

He says a further visit in six months or so will confirm the project's success.

A visit to Nu'ulua Island was not possible because of rough seas, but a planned visit later this year will include a lizard survey, to ascertain the effects of the project on the lizard population.

The $200,000 US dollar project, which is funded through Conservation International's Pacific programme, is managed by SPREP and implemented by Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.