Conservation on Macquarie Island
An interesting article in The Age today claims that Tasmanian and Federal Governments are squabbling while the biodiversity-rich Macquarie Island is threatened by a rat and, particularly, a rabbit plague. Macquarie is halfway between Australia and Antarctica and is part of Tasmania.
Macquarie is classified as a world heritage site
- partly for geological reasons but also because of the plants and species there. It is an important habitat for marine mammals and about 3.5 million seabirds arrive annually there to breed. Many are penguins – it is an important roosting habitat for King penguins
- but there are also pelagic rarities – the Light-mantled sooty albatross
(pictured above) is one. The Age article describes the LMSA as threatened with extinction – this is an exaggeration – though its numbers have come under intense pressure because of predation of chicks by ferals and because of long-line fishing
The World Heritage Bureau is investigating Australia’s management of the island.
The sad story of Macquarie is due first to the initial daft decision to introduce pest species there and then by a well-intentioned, though mistaken, decision to eliminate only one of the introduced species – the despicable common cat (Felis catus
). With the cats gone there was an explosion in the rat and rabbit population. Yes, conservation biology is complicated – recall the cane toad story!
The WWF has organised a online petition here
to persuade the giovernmernt to take decisive action. Please consider signing it.