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Putting together a project
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Scientific research
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Rat eradication
Ecological restoration
Captive breeding
Reintroduction
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So far so good
 

It didn't take long for the project team to realise that the black rats on Great Bird Island were a big problem (see Public Enemy No.1). Unless they were removed quickly, the Antiguan racer's chances of survival were slimmer than a wafer-thin mint.

Getting rid of rats is a difficult and dangerous business. It was important to clear the island quickly and cleanly. Rat eradication experts were called in. Dr Alan Buckle, a specialist from Zeneca Agrochemicals (see Advisers), recommended Klerat, because it contains a kind of poison that kills rats quickly without harming other animals and the environment.

The military-style campaign began in December 1995. Using a hit squad of troops mainly from the Environmental Awareness Group and the Antiguan Forestry Unit (see Heroes), the ratbusters swept across Great Bird Island and the nearby Galley Islands. They laid out 730 blocks of rat poison in a grid system at 10-metre intervals, even risking their lives to reach ledges on the steep 30 metre-high cliffs.

 

Chemical weapons: blocks of Klerat D4
The first dead rats were found within a few days. After two weeks, there were no more signs of life, but the assault lasted 30 days. The ratbusters couldn't afford to miss a single rat or take any prisoners. There were no survivors.
The campaign was a great success and the snake population began to increase (see So Far So Good).
Go behind the scenes to find out what this work is really like in Ratbusters - The Inside Story

Rat eating
poisoned bait

Half-eaten
bait
block

Dead rat poisoned
by rat bait
Rats have now been cleared from ten islands. At least twice a year, on all these islands, 'chew sticks' of wood soaked in vegetable oil are left out overnight, then checked for tooth marks the next day. So far, there are no signs that the rats have re-invaded. But in the fight to save the racer and other offshore wildlife, eradicating rats from Great Bird Island and nearby islands is only half the battle (see Back To The Future).
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