During the late 17th Century, a succession of Pacific plundering pirates parked at the shores of the Galapagos Islands, bringing Norwegian and black rats, which were to have a devastating effect on the island’s wildlife for years to come.
For centuries these new inhabitants lorded over the islands, eating turtle eggs, sullying the place with disease, and bullying rare birds into obscurity. That was until recently, when scientists decided that enough was enough.
Mobilising the Galapagos National Park Service and Charles Darwin Foundation, the scientists launched a “full-scale assault” on the dirty assailants, dumping roughly ten tonnes of poison soaked biscuits from helicopters in two daring fly overs.
The poison used on the unnamed biscuit brand allegedly entices the rats while repelling other rare and endangered inhabitants, such as sea lions, marine iguanas, turtles, and birds.
While the mission has been labelled a “cavalier biscuit fiasco”, its work has already achieved levels of success, with monitors spotting dead rats on the rocky terrain of several islands.
Felipe Cruz, director of technical assistance at the foundation, says the rats’ ‘party’ could prove catastrophic to this unique ecosystem, should it be allowed to persist. As to date, the rodents have endangered roughly 50 bird species, including the rare Galapagos Petrel.
The biscuit bombed islands will continue to be monitored over the next two years, before plans get underway to rid black rats from the island of Pinzon. Here the rats have been sucking the eggs of the Galapagos giant tortoise dry, restricting its breeding for over a century.
While the horizon appears significantly brighter for the endangered residents of this Pacific archipelago, zoologist and rodent behavioural specialist, Dr Dan Pinstle, has labelled the entire operation an “anthropocentric disgrace”.
Dr Pinstle likens ‘egg stealing’ and ‘bird bullying’ to shopping for breakfast and courting young ladies on a typical island holiday. He says all the rodents were doing was capitalizing on a delightful destination when they were bombarded with ludicrous amounts of death soaked biscuits, adding – how would you like it?
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