By Mike Puia
BIRDLIFE International, a worldwide alliance of non-governmental organisations that promotes conservation of birds and their habitats, has expressed its eagerness to roll out its planned project in East Rennell, Renbel Province, this year.
BirdLife International Pacific Secretariat’s Programme Manager for Invasive Alien Species, Mr Steve Cranwell said they look forward to commencing the planned 12-month project.
Cranwell said they are working on formalities of the project and once granted the project should start around April.
The project aims to find ways to eradicate the giant rat that was recently found in east Rennell. It also seeks to identify endemic birds on the island and find out ways of protecting them.
In fact, the giant rat is a key threat to east Rennell’s world heritage site. The site, which was accorded a world heritage site in 1998, had been placed under the endangered list in 2013.
The planned project is among efforts to help east Rennell retain the world heritage status.
Cranwell said they are delighted to be working with the Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association (LTWHSA) to be able to deal with harmful introduced species on the site.
He said they anticipated that field work on east Rennell will occur two to three months after project formalities are completed.
Cranwell said field work will focus on invasive species surveys particularly introduced rats and also survey on fire ants, yellow crazy ants and giant African snail.
Birdlife plans to conduct a census of native birds which will provide a basis for measuring the condition of the site over time.
The project seeks to establish mechanisms for reducing the impacts of these invasive species and preventing the introduction of new ones.
Cranwell said the involvement of communities in East Rennell will be an important part of the project and people’s views will be inclusive in the design.