New photos from the field.
Below are new photos of the specially trained rodent detection dogs that have been working on South Georgia since the end of December. They are helping to search for any remaining rodents following the Habitat Restoration project. In 2011, 2013 and 2015 over 1000 square kilometers were baited thanks to the support of FOSGI and SGHT (South Georgia Heritage Trust) donors. Read more about the project here.
Will & Wai are now working on South Georgia.
The South Georgia Museum reports “we got dogs for Christmas!” in their News page.
The specially trained sniffer dogs Will & Wai and their handlers are now on South Georgia and working on the survey that will determine the success of the rodent eradication project. (Clicking on the image above takes you to the museum latest news page).
Dickie Hall the Habitat Restoration Project Director described the scale of the survey in our August 2017 joint newsletter: “We are looking at surveying a coastline almost a thousand kilometres long – as well as a land mass of 895 km2”
Below are photos of the dogs in Stanley when they were on their way to South Georgia.
Tracker dogs Will & Wai testing out the security office chair when they went down to welcome Pharos into port
Wai with Stanley in the background.
Will, Wai & dog handler Miriam checking out a mouse hole at the beach
Wai gets a closer look at a mouse hole.
South Georgia Habitat Restoration project featured on the UK BBC Breakfast news show
27 December 2017
Watch the full feature below:
Moment of truth for world’s largest island eradication project
December 11 2017
Globally important bird sanctuary of South Georgia monitored to determine the success of a rodent eradication project.
To view or download the Habitat Restoration Phase 4 Announcement Press Release click this link:
The sound of the Pipits.
An update from South Georgia and message of thanks to our supporters from Denise Landau, FOSGI President
It was a phenomenal trip, as South Georgia always is. We landed for around 5-7 hrs each day at each site in Gold Harbour, St. Andrews, Salisbury, Prion, and 3 hours in the rain at King Haakon Zodiac cruised Hercules Bay and overall had a GREAT trip.
At every landing and Hercules the sound of the pipits was louder than the elephant seals.
It truly is the first trip I’ve done in South Georgia where we had many many many pipits singing their hearts out, notable increases in Pintails, Antarctic Terns, Sheathbills (J). At least 12 Light Mantled Albatross at Hercules and Gold Harbour. Eight Wandering Albatrosses on nests at Prion as well as numerous nesting Giant Petrels I could go on with the rest of the sights and counts.
Elephant seals at this time of year are on the beach and the sheer number of males, females and thousands of pups at each site was fantastic. The sound of the Ellies however were drowned out by pipits. At one point on Gold Harbour (baited in 2015) I started laughing and had tears in my eyes both at the same time, because I’ve never seen so many Ellies and Pipits in one place, but I think the sound of the pipits out did the 2 Ton Ellie Males. In addition, our passengers were constantly talking about pipits and pintails and coming to me about where and how many they have heard. Pipit was a word used commonly every day all day and night-yes that is a big change for us!
Our passengers on board industriously scrubbed their boots, clothing, signed biosecurity documents and more.
Great to see Sarah and Team at work all doing a great job for us.
We’ve collectively made a huge difference to the ecology of SG. So, whatever happens going forward, we have the collective ability to accomplish what we set out to do.
Latest Newsletter now available.
Report on the Island Invasives 2017 Conference by Denise Landau.
Download pdf version invasion-by-aliens
Event: New and future science from South Georgia and the surrounding seas
November 10th 2017, at the Aurora, Cambridge, England, UK.
The South Georgia Association is organising an event on November 10th 2017 on New and future science from South Georgia and the surrounding seas.
Presentations, by scientists who are actively involved in research, will be pitched for the membership of the South Georgia Association and others who have a wide range of knowledge and expertise relevant to the Island but not all of whom are scientists. This is a full day event followed by a drinks reception and supper in the Icebreaker at BAS. The programme will be accompanied by an exhibition of artwork and photographic images related to South Georgia.
The event will be held at the Aurora which is the British Antarctic Survey’s new innovation and conference centre
The full programme can be found at: http://www.southgeorgiaassociation.org/events.html
The Island Invasives Conference 2017
Island Invasives 2017 was held in Dundee, Scotland, UK this month and was a fantastic success. Congratulations to all on an excellent conference.
It was a very important part of sharing our skills and experiences and passing lessons learned on to future projects. The energy created will we think be important for the future of world conservation. You can help keep the conversation going on social media by using the hashtag #IslandInvasives.
See some of our photos below. More photos of the conference can be found here .
Island Invasives conference (being held in Scotland in July) to be opened by the British Princess Royal
Keep the conversation going on social media by using the hashtag #IslandInvasives.
We proudly support The Frank S. Todd Memorial Fund
The polar world celebrates the life of biologist Frank S. Todd, a world-renowned authority on penguins, with the creation of the Frank S. Todd Memorial Fund for supporting scientific work on South Georgia to the benefit of all seabirds. Read more here
This will be the third in a series of international conferences focussed on invasive alien species (IAS) on islands, their impact and management. It follows those held in Auckland (2001) and New Zealand (2010). This conference is being held in Dundee, Scotland.
The decision was made to hold this conference primarily because of the help that we received from the Island Invasives community whist undertaking the South Georgia rodent eradication (or Habitat Restoration Project).
“South Georgia Island – from the beaches!”
Download this Letter of thanks to our supporters from
Denise Landau, FOSGI President.
NASA Photo of South Georgia from Feb 2 2017
“A Cut in the Clouds” The island formed ripples in the clouds.
From the NASA Earth Observatory page
“Like a ship carving its way through the sea, the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands parted the clouds. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image on February 2, 2017. The ripples in the clouds are known as gravity waves.”
‘Reclaiming South Georgia’ placed in the top 10 bird books of 2016!!
The British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology have rated ‘Reclaiming South Georgia’ 6th in their review of the best bird books of 2016.
Here’s what they say:
“Every year, British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology get together to review the best bird books to appear during the previous 12 months.”
“The story of this hugely ambitious and challenging project is skillfully told in this book with a highly readable text that has been married with many superb photographs. Having introduced the islands and their importance for birds, the book summaries the huge problems caused by the introduced Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus and then explains how they were dealt with, from the initial planning stages through to completion of the project. The work carried out is already starting to pay dividends, though further checks are required to make sure that the islands really are now completely free of ‘furry invaders’. Proceeds from the book will help to raise funds for this monitoring work, providing an additional reason (if you needed one) for investing in this book.”
Details of how to purchase the book can be found by clicking on this link.
November 2016 Habitat Restoration Newsletter is now out!!
Latest RatWatch document available.
This Rat Watch leaflet explains how YOU can take part and help us with Phase 4 (2016-2018) if the habitat Restoration project, it is essentially detective work. We are looking for any signs of rat or mouse in South Georgia. The main part of Phase 4 involves us sending teams of people, with trained dogs, to all baited areas to look for signs of rats and mice.
Habitat Restoration Project Director Tony Martin is named “Conservationist of the Year”
Professor Tony Martin, who is leading the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project has been named the Zoological Society of London “Conservationist of the Year”. He will be presented with this prestigious award later in the year.
The Habitat Restoration Project is being carried out in four Phases and will take at least 10 years from planning to completion. Professor Martin led an international team of experts, affectionately known as “Team Rat”, for the first three phases in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Poisoned bait was spread using helicopters over rat-infested areas of South Georgia, which were divided by glaciers.
Monitoring to date has indicated that the first and second phases of the baiting have been successful, with no rat presence detected and significant recovery of ground-nesting bird populations. The South Georgia Heritage Trust is currently planning the Phase 4 monitoring expedition which will take place at the end of 2017.
Professor Martin, said he was “immensely proud” to be named Conservationist of the Year and said that “It was a privilege to lead such a remarkable team of people, on this breath-taking sub-Antarctic island.” Read more from press reports here
South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) Changes Chairmanship
For the last 14 years, Howard Pearce tirelessly dedicated his time and energy towards the betterment of South Georgia. FOSGI is grateful to have worked along side Howard for the last 5 years and wish him and his lovely family well in his retirement (at least from this project). The picture on the left is of Chairman Howard Pearce during SGHT’s Annual General Meeting in Cambridge, England on February 18, 2016. He has been SGHT’s volunteer Chairman for 10 years.
Howard first came to the South Atlantic as the Governor of the Falkland Islands and the Commissioner for South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, from 2002 to July 2006. He then stepped in as SGHT chairman in September 2006, after the untimely death of the founding SGHT chairman David Nicholls. Howard carried forward the work on the dream of a South Georgia free of rodents and a haven for indigenous birds and plants and preserving and increasing awareness of the human history of the island.
The new SGHT Chairman is Ms. Philippa Foster-Back CBE (right). We warmly welcome her and look forward to working together to accomplish great projects that protect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage of South Georgia.
Above are two photos from the South Georgia visit by SGHT Trustees and friends in 2009, and a close up of the farewell cake.
A nest of pipits has been found in the area we baited in 2011
The nest shown here was discovered on 14th December 2015 in Burnet Cove in Maiviken by Jamie Coleman, BAS Terrestrial biologist at KEP.
Jamie says that there are at least four pairs of pipits at Maiviken now!
Thank you to Jamie for the photo.
Island Invasives Conference 2017 Announcements
Monday 10 July – Friday 14 July, 2017
Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee
The conference was announced mid November 2015.
“This will be the third in a series of international conferences focussed on invasive alien species (IAS) on islands, their impact and management. It follows those held in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2001 and 2010. The Dundee conference will therefore be the first such meeting for seven years.
This conference, hosted by the University of Dundee and the South Georgia Heritage Trust, will be a long-overdue gathering of the island invasives clan.
Since the last meeting in 2010, much has been learned about the damage caused by, and how to control or eradicate, an increasingly diverse range of invasive species. This will be an opportunity to share that knowledge, and to be inspired by what has been achieved by passionate and dedicated conservationists around the world.”
Looking forward to the Antarctic Summer 2015/16 season
Citizen science – with the cruise ship season starting passengers can help us look for recovery signs of the bird population…
Signs of recovery: “… and most poignant of all everywhere you went on South Georgia before 2011 you’d see lots of little tracks in the snow and they would always be rats and mice. Today everywhere you go you will see similar tracks in the snow just like this but these are made by Pipits. I still cannot get used to coming across tracks in the snow and every single one is a Pipit tack rather than a rat or a mouse track, and to me this kind of summarizes what SGHT [and FOSGI] has been able to bring about on South Georgia, an absolute transformation of the wildlife there and of course we’re only just starting the recovery, it’ll be going on for decades and centuries.”
Professor Tony Martin, Habitat Restoration Project Director.
and any dreaded rodent signs….
( rodent signs image from http://www.gov.gs INFORMATION FOR VISITORS TO SOUTH GEORGIA 2015/16 )
Gearing up for Phase 4 – we want to declare South Georgia rodent free.
Professor Tony Martin, Habitat Restoration, Project Director, describes the monitoring phase..
“The rule of thumb internationally is to investigate two years after you finish baiting and if you don’t find any rodent sign you say that’s it – job done. We’re going to leave it a little bit more than that and in fact in the case of phase 2 it’ll be four and a half years, because it is such a vast area.
No one has tried to look for rodents over a place 100 miles long, with mountains 3,000 meters high. …but we have to do it at some stage and so the end of 2017, beginning of 2018 will be the best time to do it we believe. We’ll go there with a team of people with chew sticks and camera traps and various other devices and if no rodent sign is found then South Georgia will be declared free.”
July 2015 Update
Media coverage announcing the completion of Phase 3 baiting operations 25 June 2015 onwards
- Wave 102FM (Dundee)
- BBC Radio Scotland
- BBC Breakfast TV (national)
National UK Newspapers
- The Times
- The Independent
- The Observer
- Daily Express -TBC
- Press Association
- Rex Features
Regional UK Newspapers
- The Scotsman
- Dundee Courier
- Geographical Magazine
- The Independent
- The Times
- BBC News Online (Scotland)
- Pest Control Technology
- Birdwatch Magazine
- Fat Birder
- GSGSSI website
Media outlets which showed interest:
- STV (Scottish TV)
- Al Jazeera (online)
- Channel 4/ITN
- BBC Scotland (TV)
- Yale Environment 360 (online)
- Quark Expeditions Blog Post (online)
June 2015 Update
- June 25, 2015: Press Conference in London to discuss the success thus far of our Habitat Restoration Project
- June 26, 2015: Habitat Restoration Sub Committee Meeting to discuss our next phase of the project, Cambridge
- Announced: Join us for a House of Lords event! We look forward to an exciting time in London, October, 2015. A minimum donation may be required to attend. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
May 2015 Update
Trustees from South Georgia Heritage Trust met in London to review the last 6 months, celebrate phase 3 Habitat Restoration baiting, overall strategy and plan for future operations in Dundee and in South Georgia. We had a lively fundraising meeting to discuss our needs going forward. If anyone has any great ideas or would like to assist in raising necessary funds to complete this project, please let us know at email@example.com.
April 2015 Update
Team Rat returned from South Georgia after a successful 2015 baiting season. We are grateful to Captain and crew of the vessel the Sir Ernest Shackleton and the British Antarctic Survey for having the time and space to bring back Team Rat, our equipment and helicopters from South Georgia to the Falkland Islands. Thanks Team Rat and everyone for a successful season once again.
March 2015 Update
Phase 3 successful baiting season.
Professor Tony Martin the Habitat Restoration Project Director wrote in the Late March Project News:
Mon, Mar 23rd 2015. King Edward Point, South Georgia.
At 12:37 today I watched helicopter Alpha Mike flown by Chief Pilot Peter Garden pick up the 259th load of Phase 3 rodent bait and then disappear over the hill. Thirteen minutes later Peter returned with an empty bucket, as he has done many, many times before. But this load was different, because it was the last load of the Charlotte baiting zone, and the last load of Phase 3. Not only that, but this was also the last load of bait for the entire South Georgia Habitat Restoration project. After many years of preparation, three seasons of fieldwork, more than 800 bait loads, a thousand helicopter flying hours and over a thousand square kilometres treated, the final pellet had been dropped.
He goes on to thanks the thousands of supports who make the work possible, then looks forward to the 2017 large scale survey of the island that will check for signs of any surviving rodents:
…the Habitat Restoration Project must and will continue until we know that the baiting has achieved its aim. As I’ve warned in earlier issues of Project News, we cannot afford to take anything for granted. We have to be vigilant for any sign that rodents have survived the initial baiting operation, and be ready to snuff out any such pockets of survivors. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and the completion of baiting may allow her a few celebratory warm-up warblings, but the full power of her voice will not be heard until we can be confident that all rodents on South Georgia have been vanquished. To that end a large scale yacht-based survey (with all its concomitant costs) will be carried out in a couple of years’ time; only after that can we truly relax and know that the job has indeed been done.
See the full story, so far, of the Habitat Restoration in out Project News Archive page.
February 2015 Update
Video – Helicopters Taking Bait Onshore (2013)
As the 2015 baiting is currently underway, here’s a fun video showing some of the 2013 baiting work.
January 2015 Update
Phase 3 Of The Habitat Restoration Project begins
Read more in our January Newsletter…
Highlights from previous Years
2014 Explorers Club Event
Tony Martin gave a talk to members of the explorers club.
2013 Phase 2 – Successful baiting season
Team Rat has completed the second year of Habitat Restoration fieldwork in 2013. During this season the international team of eradication experts tackled all rodent-infested areas to the west of the Greene, Thatcher and Mercer areas cleared in 2011. All indications are that those areas have now been rat-free for two years, and the birds are already benefitting. Pintail Ducklings are fledging successfully at Grytviken for the first time in living memory! Over 50,000 hectares of infested land were baited in 2013 despite some of the worst weather in a decade, a tremendous achievement.
2012 Donation To FOSGI By The Island Foundation
On June 26th 2012 at a St. James’s Palace luncheon hosted by HRH The Princess Royal, the announcement was made that the Island Foundation would donate a further US$750,000 to the Habitat Restoration project through FOSGI. The funds were used to pay for bait in Phase 2 of the work.
2011 Friends of South Georgia Island (FOSGI) Is Awarded 501(c) 3 Status
The Friends of South Georgia Island organization (FOSGI) was awarded 501(c) 3 status in December 2011. US donors can make a tax-deductible donation to benefit South Georgia through this website or download a donation form FOSGI donation form 2013.