27 May 2013

Suwarrow Blog 17 - Returning to the real world

Yesterday’s survey of Motu Manu showed a large colony of frigatebirds
By Nick.Hayward

Today the team reflect on the potential success of their expedition to save Suwarrow’s seabirds, and ready themselves for their return trip to the real world.

"The final baiting of Anchorage took place today. With the crew from the Vaka enthusiastically joining in and taking instructions from the now very experienced Suwarrow rat eradication team. The weather is looking fine and clear so the omens are good for a successful eradication of the rats.

Motu Tou is still a bit of a question mark. Effected by the rain during the first baiting when checked yesterday there wasn’t as much bait on the ground as expected..

We are all hopeful that the eradication on Motu Tou will be a success. However, only time will tell as the rats are very difficult to detect if they are present in low numbers.  It will be necessary to monitor the island over the coming months and years. Yesterday’s survey of Motu Manu showed a large colony of frigatebirds the majority being Lesser Frigates. This is very encouraging as Lessers have a lower global population than the larger Greater Frigates.  

Blog17 Tania & Ben baiting Tania from the Vaka crew taking instructions from experienced Suwarrow rat eradication team member Ben. The Vaka is moored in the background, ready to take them home.


With the South-easterly forecasted to swing to the east the Vaka (traditional boat) is due to leave in the outgoing tide tomorrow at 8 am. We are hoping for good winds and a following sea for Rarotonga. It’s a sad thought to be leaving Suwarrow and our friends the rangers. Tonight we will have our farewell feast of fresh fish - then it’s back to the worlds we left behind...” Nick Hayward – Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands. ***

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The expedition to remove rats from Suwarrow National Park is a joint project between BirdLife International, Te Ipukarea Society (BirdLife Partner in the Cook Islands) and the Cook Island National Environment Service. The project is being kindly supported by the European Community, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, SPREP, GEF and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and forms part of the BirdLife Invasive Alien Species Programme which is tackling this greatest of threats to wildlife around the world. BirdLife wishes to thank the efforts of many who are supporting the programme including Pacific Invasive Initiative, Pacific Invasive Learning Network, New Zealand Department of Conservation the University of the South Pacific, Landcare Research New Zealand, Island Conservation, Wildiaries and Nick Hayward.