Improving MPA Management

Rat Eradication on Ile Vache Marine: A Success!

Peter Carr and his team with the Chagos Conservation Trust have proudly announced the successful eradication of rats from Ile Vache Marine.

The island sits within the British Indian Ocean Territory and therefore, within its MPA.

Invasive rats have colonized remote islands worldwide alongside human exploration since the 1800s. Ile Vache Marine is a particularly important island as its beaches are used by the two sea turtles species inhabiting BIOT, the hawksbill turtle and green sea turtle. Rats represent a significant threat to these two species populations in BIOT as they feed on their eggs and young. Additionally, they have the same impacts on the populations of native birds present on the island with an added pressure, they can eat adults. The presence of rats reduces bird populations dramatically. This affects the whole surrounding coral reef ecosystem as seabird’s guano represent an essential input of nutrients to the reef. The consequences of rat invasion on remote islands makes their eradication a sensible response plan in restoring lost populations.

The ambitious project of the Chagos Conservation Trust was to eradicate rats from the island in order to allow native species to thrive once more. For an island to be declared “rat free” a minimum period of two years of monitoring must pass to ensure no rat has survived. Therefore, in spring 2017, Peter Carr returned to the island with the hope of finding it rat free. What he found was a thriving ecosystem with native plants recovering as well as healthy invertebrate populations.