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Wild Travel Magazine

Rat removal boosts Eleonora's falcon and other species.

12/05/2007 00:00:00

Many birds threatened by Black rats.

  • Many other threatened birds and their habitats are under intense threat as a result of accidental introductions of invasive pests like Black Rat. BirdLife International are asking for your support as efforts are put in place to stop the looming extinction of several small parrot species in the Pacific – Kuhl’s (Rimatara) Lorikeet, Ultramarine Lorikeet and Uvea Parakeet.
  • To find out what you can do to help, please visit: BirdLife Appeal: Pacific Parrots.
Eradication of black rats from three small islets that host important breeding Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae and seabird colonies in the Northern Sporades National Marine Park, Greece, has had immediate conservation benefits.
Beneficiary of a rat-free home: Eleonora's Falcon. © Dietrich Ristow,
Prior to the eradication, up to 30% of Eleonora’s Falcon eggs and nestlings were eaten by rats, but subsequently neither the falcons, nor the breeding seabirds— mainly Mediterranean Shags and Yellow-legged Gulls —have suffered rat predation.

150 kg of the anticoagulant rodenticide Brodifacoum-based BRODIRAC was hand broadcast at bait stations on the islets in March 2005, before the falcons had returned from their winter quarters in Africa. More than 18 months later, there is no evidence rats survive on the 15 hectare Lagofytonisia islets which have been declared rat-free.

‘There is no danger to Eleonora’s Falcons, which specialise in feeding on birds and insects, and reptiles and invertebrates are not susceptible to this poison,’ explained Jose Tavares, RSPB Country Programme Officer for Turkey, Greece and Portugal. ‘The rats generally die in their burrows so do not pose a significant risk to raptors and scavengers.’ A second rat eradication trial is now underway on the 4.5 hectare Kastronisia islets in the Northern Sporades, which host up to 24 pairs of Eleonora’s Falcon, and suitable eradication sites across hundreds of Greeks islands in the whole Aegean are being identified and prioritised for future rat-removal.

‘We have learned a lot about rat control measures, which will be invaluable for conservation work in the country,’ said Jakob Fric of HOS (BirdLife in Greece), who took part in the trials.

The project was carried out as part of an EU-LIFE project to improve conservation measures for the Eleonora’s Falcon.

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