Planning a mass extermination of predatory rodents on an island in South Africa

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Conservationists hope invasive rats threatening the environment on a South African island will swallow the bait.

A genocide is underway to eradicate the predatory rodents, which have been breeding ceaselessly and preying on adult seabirds and their young on Marion Island, one of two Prince Edward Islands about 1,200 miles southeast of Cape Town that have been set aside as nature. Spare.

The rats were accidentally brought to an uninhabited area in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica 200 years ago, most likely on the ships of seal hunters who landed there.

A large-scale conservation plan has been launched to spread rodent poison on the lands of South Africa's Marion Island to restore previously undisturbed habitats. AP

As global temperatures rise, the nature reserve is becoming more hospitable to destructive creatures. Fewer are killed in the winter, and in the past few decades, these insects have become increasingly destructive, according to Dr. Anton Wolfhardt, head of the Rat-Free Marion Project.

Up to 550 tons of rodenticide bait will be dropped on Marion Island. Waldhardt saidBut $25 million must be raised first before the plan, scheduled for implementation in 2027, can move forward.

The area is home to large bird populations of about 30 species, including four species of penguins and the endangered wandering albatross, which lack the defensive skills to fend off attacks. The area was a peaceful home for them until the mighty rats took over.

A single mouse on Marion Island will feed on a bird several times its size, a phenomenon seen only on a few of the world's islands.

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One mouse can feed on a bird several times larger than itself. AP

Pictures taken by conservationists showed a tiny mouse biting off the bleeding head of a wandering albatross chick.

The mice will nibble on the chicks' heads throughout the night, leaving them exhausted and trying to recover from their injuries. According to National Geographic. Researchers first began noticing scalped birds around 2009.

The endangered wandering albatross is known for its ritual dance, a complex set of calls and gestures. AP

If the project succeeds, it will be the largest extermination of its kind, but if a single pregnant female survives, the game of cat and mouse could continue. Insects begin to reproduce at only 60 days old, and females can give birth to up to 40 babies per year.

The effort is seen as critical to the region and the surrounding southern Indian Ocean. If nothing is done, environmentalists say 19 species of seabirds will be wiped out from the island within the next 100 years.

The project is a partnership between BirdLife South Africa and the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment.

With mail wires

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