Gough island is a remote and beautiful island in the UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, out in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. The island is an important breeding site for a variety of seabirds, including the Critically Endangered Tristan albatross. Unfortunately, in the 19th century, sailors accidentally introduced mice to Gough Island. These mice are now decimating the local seabird population, eating the flesh of live seabird chicks – and even adult birds too.
To save the Tristan albatross and the other seabirds that breed on Gough, the RZSS veterinary team are assisting the RSPB with a major eradication of mice across the whole island. Originally due to go ahead in 2020, this operation has now been postponed to 2021 due to the global Covid-19 outbreak.
The eradication programme entails making sure that other threatened birds on Gough Island experience minimal exposure to the rodenticide being used to eradicate the mice. In particular, we will need to keep the threatened Gough moorhen (Gallinula comeri) and Gough bunting (Rowettia goughensis) in captivity on the island for several months. Our vets will be leading on all veterinary aspects of this operation in partnership with the RSPB, both in the planning phases and on the island itself during project setup.