Suwarrow Trip 2022 – Rat Eradication programme – Te Ipukarea Society

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About this Voyage

Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is a proactive non-government environment organisation (NGO) in the Cook Islands, formed in 1996 to help look after our heritage.

One of our key areas of work is in invasive species. Our main focus at the moment is a rat eradication project in Suwarrow Atoll, the Cook Islands’ first and only National Park and acknowledged globally as an important bird area.

We have worked for a number of years on this, culminating in a 2018 campaign which we hoped would be the end of the rats on Suwarrow. However, on a monitoring trip earlier this year, we found there was a remnant population of rats remaining on one of the small islets around Suwarrow’s lagoon. This islet is home to breeding seabirds, including red tailed tropic birds, booby birds, and frigate birds.

We believe it is urgent to deal with this rat population as soon as possible, as they are prolific breeders and numbers will increase exponentially in a short time. They will then likely spread to adjacent islets, affecting more vulnerable bird nesting sites.

This means we need to travel north to Suwarrow as soon as the cyclone season is over, in May 2022. We have obtained costings for materials and transport on the Cook Islands traditional voyaging canoe, Marumaru Atua, to take a team to Suwarrow to do the work for 2 weeks. This is the most cost effective means of transport and also has a very small carbon footprint.

The Crew - Made up of CIVS, Te Ipukarea Society and Te Puna Marama

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