Fresh from his Our Far South expedition to Antarctica and the subantarctics, Gareth Morgan today announced a major pest eradication initiative to remove mice from New Zealand's Antipodes Islands. The intention is to raise $1 million for the project, and Gareth & Jo Morgan will match public contributions, dollar for dollar.
These ecological treasures lie 800km southeast of Bluff. The project, to be carried out by the Department of Conservation (DoC), will secure the only home of the Antipodes Island snipe, Pipit and the Antipodes Island and riescheck parakeets. The islands are also critical breeding habitats for Antipodean albatross, and a variety of petrel. There are also at least 20 insect species and at least 3 plants that are unique to the Antipodes.
Mice are the only introduced species on the island. They eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds such as petrels and have been implicated in the deaths of albatross chicks. Mice also eat huge numbers of insects and the seeds of plants that are critical to the health of the islands.
The funds will be raised by a partnership that includes The Morgan Foundation, The Department of Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Fiordland Conservation Trust, Heritage Expeditions (on whose ship the group of 50 New Zealanders ventured south) and Kiwibank.
Speaking for the Morgan Foundation, Gareth Morgan said "these subantarctic islands of ours are like life-rafts in the vast Southern Ocean. Seals, elephant seals and sea lions haul themselves up on them, penguins retreat to their shore line, while the great flying birds like albatross, shearwaters and petrels establish nests and breed here. It's offensive really to think that New Zealanders, having exhausted short-lived commercial opportunities down here, then abandoned the islands but left their garbage, in the form of introduced pests, to smother the native fauna."
Tim Flannery has commented, "New Zealand's greatest achievement as a nation is not rugby or dairy but the pest eradication on Campbell Island".
"We can be proud that DoC has an outstanding record in removing pests and the idea to fund the Antipodes Island project acknowledges those achievements. This represents a fantastic opportunity to make a one-off investment to clear these islands of the last remaining pests. This project will make a huge difference to the survival of birds of the Southern Ocean, so we need to do it," Dr Morgan said.
Andy Roberts, DoC's Southern Islands Area Manager, notes the success of pest eradication projects on New Zealand's Enderby and Campbell Islands, and on Australia's Macquarie Island. Andy said "This is a great opportunity to work with the public and a group of donors to achieve important conservation benefits. The target of removing every mouse from the islands is achievable."
Details of the Million Dollar Mouse Project are available at www.milliondollarmouse.org.nz where online donations can be made. Alternatively you can make your donation at any branch of Kiwibank by depositing to the "Million Dollar Mouse" account.
Our Far South website: www.milliondollarmouse.org.nz
Text MOUSE to 4419 to donate $3, charged to your mobile phone
Walk into any Kiwibank and make a donation over the counter