Rob Pennicott founder of the Pennicott Foundation has donated $60,000 to the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service towards the eradication of rats on Big Green Island.
The project is an exciting collaboration of community conservation efforts, involving Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, the Pennicott Foundation, Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment, Wildcare Inc volunteers, Aboriginal community members and the island’s farmer.
Big Green Island is a 125 ha island six kilometres south-west of Whitemark off the coast of Flinders Island. The island has a long history of farming. The Big Green Island Nature Reserve was established in 1980 to secure its high biodiversity values. The island also supports breeding colonies of Cape Barren geese, short tailed shearwaters, little penguins, Pacific and silver gulls, pied and sooty oyster catchers, black-faced cormorants and Caspian terns.
In the 19th Century black rats arrived on the island surviving severe drought and numerous baiting cycles. Over the past two years the rat population has exploded and caused severe destruction to the island’s population of breeding short- tailed shearwaters. Little penguins are also vulnerable to attacks from rodents and the island’s colony is showing detrimental decline. It is critical to protect the birds against attracts from rodents. The project aims to eradicate the rat population to restore the island’s natural values and breeding success of the native species.
Last week marked the successful completion of the first stages of the efforts towards eradicating the rats. Volunteers from Wildcare Inc and other conservation groups travelled to the island and spent five days installing more than 2,100 bait stations over the entire island.
The latest technology is being used and has provided crucial mapping support with an iPad-based mapping and field data recording program. “I’ve been blown away by the cutting edge technology being used to assist the project. I was shown an iPad with the map and GPS coordinates of each of the bait stations, it’s amazing how much work has gone into setting up each station, and they cover the whole island” Rob said.
Rob Pennicott is excited to be part of another island restoration project. “I truly want to make a positive difference. It’s a great opportunity for the stakeholders to work together for a long-term sustainable outcome. Our team members are keen to roll up their sleeves and help out.”
This will follow on from the incredible success of the Tasman Island restoration that Pennicott Wilderness Journeys was part of. In 2010 the business contributed $100,000 towards the eradication of feral cats that had been decimating the island’s Fairy Prion, Shearwater and penguin populations. Since the successful eradication of feral cats, 50,000 seabirds are being saved every year.
“We are confident that this will be another successful eradication project which will have long lasting positive benefits for the island’s ecosystem and seabird population” said Rob.