Saving species from extinction:
The Gough Island Restoration Programme
Since we reported the camera trap footage of a mouse on Gough in mid-December, our team on island has been running a targeted monitoring and response operation to assess the extent of mouse presence across a range of locations and intercept any individuals identified. This work remains ongoing. The team has unfortunately caught a further four mice in two other locations. These records of multiple mice mean that the Gough Island Restoration Programme has not been successful in its primary objective to eradicate every single mouse from Gough, although it will bring some respite from the immense predation pressure experienced by the birds there.
At this stage, our focus is on trying to gather as much information as possible as to how widespread mouse survival may be on the island, and across which habitats and elevations. This may help us understand the more likely cause(s) and possible ways to amend the operational approach in light of any findings so that a renewed attempt at eradication may be made at some point in the future. We will make sure that every lesson possible is learnt, not just to benefit future RSPB efforts, but those of the wider island restoration community.
The RSPB remains resolute in its commitment to see Gough restored, and to other eradications more widely including Henderson Island in the Pacific and will continue to work closely with our partners.
While we wish we could be sharing more positive news at this time, we want to express our deep gratitude to all those who have supported the Gough Island Restoration Programme. We will endeavour to keep you all updated as and when we have further significant information.
Seeking to secure the future of
Gough Island, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, needed our urgent help. Over two million seabird chicks were being lost from the island every year, which was pushing some highly threatened species towards extinction. The chicks were killed by invasive non-native house mice, inadvertently introduced to Gough by people.
The RSPB and Tristan da Cunha developed an ambitious programme of conservation action. We embarked on one of the world's most challenging island restoration projects to remove the mice and restore the fortunes of the island's birds. We hope this action will prevent the deaths of defenceless chicks year after year, allowing populations to recover from unsustainable levels of decline.