One of the major convincing factors behind purchasing North Island was to restore the islands indigenous fauna and flora – capturing the unique biodiversity of the Seychelles. This was achieved by reintroducing the endemic species that had become locally extinct or were on the verge of local extinction as a result of external factors and human impact. The islands fauna suffered tremendously with the accidental introduction of the European black rat, which was believed to have arrived on a visiting boat.
In 1826, Madame Beaufond turned the island into a thriving coconut plantation, fruit, vegetable and spices farm. Attempts were made to get rid of the rodents by introducing cats and barn owls, but this only graved the situation. The farm was abandoned in 1976 after the invention sun flower oil which led to the financial demise of the copra industry – rats and numerous other alien species continued to multiply and thrive on the island.
Thus the rehabilitation of North Island involved lots of hard work in getting rid of those invasive species and it is still an on-going programme.
The eradication of the black rats was a great success in 2005 and over the subsequent years, the North Island team has been pushing forward to overcome the challenge of keeping the island rodent free.
The common myna is also an alien species in the Seychelles and is also in the process of being eradicated and removed from several islands. Attempts on North Island were done in 2006, but this proved to be a big challenge, especially because the rat eradication was still underway, with most of the focus being placed on them. This of course, gave the myna’s breathing space to thrive and multiply. Reinvasions from the neighbouring islands may have played a role in increasing the population.
In October 2012, we welcomed Professor Chris Feare and his assistant Christine Larose, who will be helping us in reattempting to eradicate mynas. It is really important to get rid of this alien species, as studies done on Denis Island revealed that the mynas aggressively attacked the native species. After lowering the myna population on Denis Island, it was noticed that there was no more native species with head injuries and there now appear to be more white terns nesting on the island.
Let us hope for another eradication project success, which will lead us towards our goal in restoring the unique biodiversity of Seychelles here on North Island