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The Rakiura Tītī Islands Restoration Project: community action to eradicate Rattus rattus and Rattus exulans for ecological restoration and cultural wellbeing

Released: 2011
McClelland, P. J., R. Coote, M. Trow, P. Hutchins, H. M. Nevins, J. Adams, J. Newman, and H. Moller. 2011.The Rakiura Tītī Islands Restoration Project: community action to eradicate Rattus rattus and Rattus exulans for ecological restoration and cultural wellbeing. Pp. 451-454 In: Veitch, C. R.; Clout, M. N. and Towns, D. R. (eds.) 2011. Island Invasives: Eradication and Management. Proceedings of the International Conference on Island Invasives. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN and Auckland, New Zealand: CBB. xii + 542pp.

In 2003, a non-profit group, Ka Mate Nga Kiore, was set up to oversee the restoration of four Māori-owned islands off the south coast of Stewart Island, New Zealand. The first step in the restoration was to eradicate ship rats (Rattus rattus) from three islands and Pacific rats (R. exulans) from another. The eradication was funded by the Command Oil Spill Trustee Council which managed the mitigation money from an oil spill off the Californian coast in 1998. The funding was coordinated via Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, a non-profit USA group primarily involved in seabird research and restoration. The project was primarily to benefit sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) and to sustain a culturally important customary harvest of their chicks by Rakiura Māori. However, like all island eradications, a wide range of other species also benefited from the removal of rats. The New Zealand Department of Conservation provided technical advice and assistance for the planning and implementation of the eradication programme. This paper describes how, with appropriate funding, community and technical support, rodent eradications can be achieved on private islands. In this case, a range of institutions and individuals joined to achieve a common goal that highlighted a significant international conservation action. We urge that more international and local-community-led restoration projects be initiated in the future.

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Summary of Seabird Studies at WERC

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