All news articles

January 29th, 2014
Saving the World’s Most Endangered Lizards
January 29th, 2014
Salvando a las Lagartijas en Mayor Peligro del Mundo
November 25th, 2013
Island Conservation Impact Report
October 23rd, 2013
Hawadax Island Recovery Exceeding Expectations
October 15th, 2013
One Step Closer to Restoring Balance and Safe Seabird Habitat in Gwaii Haanas
July 24th, 2013
Back from the Brink of Extinction
July 24th, 2013
International Experts Convened to Improve Tropical Island Rodent Eradications
June 11th, 2013
Titi on Tahanea get a Helping Hand; Globally Endangered Shorebird Protected
June 11th, 2013
Coup de pouce pour les Titi de Tahanea. Protection d’un limicole en danger d’extinction
June 11th, 2013
Parks Canada and the Haida Nation Restoring Critical Seabird Habitat
June 4th, 2013
Native Iguanas and Shearwaters Saved from Invasive Mice on Allen Cay, The Bahamas
May 16th, 2013
Invasive Species: The 18-km2 rat trap
February 14th, 2013
Island Night Lizard: No longer threatened?
February 14th, 2013
Island Recovery Evident Ten Years after the Removal of Rats
January 14th, 2013
Battle at the End of Eden by Amanda R. Martinez
January 14th, 2013
Native Species Expected to Rebound on Rat-free Palmyra Atoll
December 8th, 2012
Galápagos Restoration Projects Makes Islands Safe for Native Species
December 8th, 2012
Island Conservation Opens New Office in Hawaii
July 31st, 2012
Funding secured for Lord Howe Island restoration
July 31st, 2012
Tahanea Atoll Motus now safe for the Titi!
July 31st, 2012
Island Conservation and Birdlife International Form Partnership to Tackle Pacific Pests
June 14th, 2012
Million Dollar Mouse Campaign
May 31st, 2012
It's Official!
May 1st, 2012
Restoring Wildlife Habitat on Desecheo Island
May 1st, 2012
Restauración del Hábitat del Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre de Desecheo
October 31st, 2011
The Sounds of Recovery
October 31st, 2011
Olivier Langrand joins Island Conservation as Director of Global Affairs
ARCHIVED ARTICLES
02/2012 Native Species on San Nicolas Island are Now Free to Reclaim Their Island Home
09/2011 Meet Dr. Ray Nias
09/2011 Palmyra: No Place for Pessimists
09/2011 Palmyra Atoll Restoration Project Completes Operational Phase to Remove Non-native Rats
07/2011 Island Hopping: Saving Species in the Tropical Pacific
04/2011 Meet our new Caribbean Regional Director!
03/2011 The Surfer's Journal meets Island Conservation
03/2011 Galapagos Restoration Partners Release Hawks Back to Islands
03/2011 Socios a cargo de la restauración de Galápagos liberan a veinte gavilanes en las islas
01/2011 Galápagos Restoration Project Achieves Conservation Milestone
12/2010 Island Conservation's 2009 Annual Report
12/2010 Island Conservation's Annual Report
08/2010 Rat Island is officially rat-free!
08/2010 IC helps Robinson Crusoe Island residents with tsunami recovery
05/2010 Meet our new South America Regional Director!
05/2010 Author David Quammen speaks on behalf of Island Conservation
03/2010 2010 International Year of Biodiversity
12/2009 Island Conservation's 2008 Annual Report
09/2009 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Publishes Priority List for Restoration of Islands with Invasive Species
05/2009 Island Conservation Honored with Department of Interior Partners in Conservation Award
12/2008 Saving Seabirds in the Aleutians
04/2008 IC and Galapagos and Machalilla National Parks unite to protect Waved Albatross on Isla de la Plata

 
July 24th, 2013
Back from the Brink of Extinction
Pinzón Giant Tortoise and rare Rábida land snails expected to thrive on rat-free islands in the Galápagos.

24 July 2013 

Pinzón Island in the famed Galápagos Islands, Ecuador is home to one of the greatest species recovery stories ever told. Over 100 years ago, an invasive alien species, the Black Rat (Rattus rattus), invaded the island [1] and began feeding on the defenseless eggs and hatchlings of the Pinzón Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis ephippium). By the turn of the 20th century, the island-endemic [2] tortoise was unable to establish its next generation of tortoises. So, in 1965, conservationists, determined to save the tortoise from the rats, but limited by resources and technology, established a captive rearing program for the Extinct in the Wild [3] tortoise.
 
Flash forward nearly a half a century to December 2012 when a conservation partnership completed a bold project to remove rats from Pinzón Island, thus eliminating the last remaining invasive alien vertebrate species threat to the tortoise and the island’s other at-risk species. Today, heralding the recovery of the tortoise and the Pinzón ecosystem, tortoise hatchlings are emerging from native Pinzón tortoise nests on the island and the Galápagos National Park have successfully returned 118 hatchlings to their native island home.
 
“This is a dream come true for conservationists around the world,” said Bill Waldman, Chief Executive Officer of Island Conservation. “We owe much to our predecessors who had the foresight to preserve this unique species in captivity in anticipation of conservation tool innovations like these.” The rat removal project was conducted by Galápagos National Park assisted by partners including Island Conservation, Charles Darwin Foundation, Bell Laboratories, Inc., and The Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota.
 
Click here to download photos in high resolution.
 
The Pinzón Island project is part of a much larger effort to restore this and other key Galápagos Island ecosystems to protect native plants and animals. Similar stories, starring other threatened species returning from the brink of extinction, are unfolding on islands throughout the archipelago.

Nearby Rábida Island is home to two island-endemic Rábida land snail species (Naesiotus rabidensis and Naesiotusjervisensis). However, due to invasive rats on the island, the snails were last seen and recorded in 1905-1906 by a California Academy of Sciences expedition.
 
For over 100 years, no live specimens were observed or recorded – until last year. In 2012, as the partnership confirmed the successful removal of rats, a surprising discovery was made by Christine Parent, PhD, from University of California Berkeley. Parent found live specimens of an endemic Rábida land snail species previously presumed to have gone extinct. “With the removal of introduced rats on Rábida and other islands, endemic land snail populations are expected to grow and recover from past predation pressure,” said Parent.
 
“This is astounding,” said Waldman. “We set out to trial our new partnership and conservation tools on Rábida. We expected the project to benefit Darwin’s finches and other island-endemic species. But we didn’t anticipate the re-emergence of previously thought extinct species—now safe due to the absence of rats. This underscores the importance and urgency of removing invasive alien species from islands.”
 
These amazing stories of species brought back from presumed extinction sets the stage for the partnership’s next major endeavor—removing multiple invasive alien species from Floreana Island.
 
Floreana Island is one of the largest, most complex invasive species removal projects to date. The partnership will extend to include the island’s community. While invasive feral goats have been successfully removed from this island, Black Rats, House Mice (Mus musculus), and six other invasive alien species remain and threaten the island’s rich biodiversity.
 
The island hosts a wealth of plants, seabirds, land birds, and wildlife including 56 IUCN [4]Red Listed species. Among them are three Critically Endangered [5] birds: Galápagos Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia); Medium Tree-finch (Camarhynchus pauper); and the Floreana Mockingbird (Mimus trifasciatus) whose range has been restricted to a couple of islets that are free of invasive predators.
 
“Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the dream of every conservationist. But we are not resting on our laurels. Our partnership is eager to take on this challenge, and make the island safe again for the Floreana Mockingbird” Waldman said. “Who knows what other surprising species recovery success stories we may be able to tell in a few years.” The project is in the planning phase with implementation anticipated in 2015.
 
The Pinzón and Rábida restoration efforts were funded by Galápagos National Park, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bell Laboratories, Inc., Galápagos Conservancy, University of Minnesota, and other valued philanthropic partners.
 

[1] First recorded in 1891 but suspected to have been introduced as a result of human ship activity in the 1700s.
[2] Found only here and nowhere else in the world.
[3] From the International Union for the Conservation of Natures’ Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/
[4] International Union for the Conservation of Natures’ Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/
[5] Ibid
 
Contact:
Heath Packard, Island Conservation, heath.packard@islandconservation.org
Christine Parent, University of California, Berkeley, ceparent@berkeley.edu
Galápagos National Park staff returning Pinzon Giant Tortoises back to their native habitat on Pinzon Island, Galápagos.

Copyright 2007 Island Conservation • All Rights Reserved   |   Disclaimer • Privacy Policy • Site Map • Contact Us