Samoa island aims to be a model for eradicating rats

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Efforts are being made to turn one of Samoa’s islands into one of the first inhabited rat-free islands in the Pacific.

The Samoa Observer reports government officials, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, and the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service have met with residents of Apolima Island to discuss the removal of invasive species.

Studies in other parts of the Pacific show the presence of invasive species on islands are detrimental to the forest as well as the coastal areas and marine life.

Apolima village mayor Lealā Solo confirmed the island has had an infestation problem for many years.

A government official said the island could become a model for eradicating rats on inhabited islands if it becomes rat-free.

Government official, Seumaloisalafai Afele Faiilagi, said Apolima Island could become a model for eradicating rats on inhabited islands if it becomes rat-free.

He said that could be big news for Samoa and a success story in the Pacific, but there is still much to do.

While there have been a number of successful rat eradication projects on uninhabited islands across the Pacific, efforts are now underway to replicate these successes on smaller inhabited offshore islands like Apolima.

SPREP’s Invasive Species Advisor, David Moverley, said recent research shows eradicating rats can help to build the natural resilience of island ecosystems to the increasing impacts of climate change.

Moverley said the success of rat eradication efforts on inhabited islands like Apolima will depend on the engagement, awareness and the support of the local communities.

He said the guano from seabirds increases the levels of nutrients or nitrogen which increases the health of the reefs and their resilience to impacts such as coral bleaching and cyclones.

Source: RNZ