Primary Objective: To eradicate rats on Suwarrow and conduct bird surveys on Pukapuka/Nassau, while building capacity of indigenous Cook Islanders, creating knowledge products, and increasing public awareness.
Removal of introduced invasive predators (rats) from Suwarrow National Park will strengthen the resilience of the seabird communities that live there. It may also encourage other species of seabirds to inhabit the atoll. It would make Suwarrow a safer layover location for migratory birds. A healthy and diverse seabird community is an important part of a healthy ocean ecosystem. As indicators of biodiversity to reflect the health of the marine environment.
The team will sail to Suwarrow with all necessary materials and equipment. Tracks will be cut across Motu Tou in a grid pattern. The team will then traverse the island using these tracks, broadcasting bait so that 100% of the land is covered. The process will be repeated 10 days later to ensure young that were in nests have also come out and been exposed to the baits. The team will also conduct bird surveys on Pukapuka and Nassau, before returning to Rarotonga.
The biosecurity plan for Suwarrow will also be reviewed to minimise any risk of re-infestation.
The project will output a number of documents which will inform the general public both here in the Cook Islands and throughout the world. who are planning similar activities, from national policymakers and conservation workers, to regional and international invasive species eradication experts, to the wider global conservation community. Documents which will be produced include: an updated Suwarrow Rat Eradication Operational Plan, a final report to GEF summarising the project and its benefits to the Cook Islands environment and communities, three separate bird survey reports regarding the respective islands, and a number of informative articles for a range of media (print, conservation websites, social media), targeted for local, regional, and international audiences