Galápagos Islands: After two years of trying to rid a pair of Galápagos Islands of destructive non-native rats, researchers say they’ve eliminated the invasive rodents with considerable help from drones.
The eradication effort was deemed necessary to protect several species of indigenous wildlife, particularly frigate birds and swallow-tailed seagulls. Officials at Galápagos National Park say black and brown rats that came to the islands aboard visiting ships during the 19th and 20th centuries had become a constant threat to both unhatched and young birds. For that reason, elimination efforts began on the Seymour Norte and Mosquera islands in 2019 – using drones for the very first time. This month, after a thorough inspection, the islands were declared rat-free.
That combination of human planning and technological innovation created a survival-of-the-fittest challenge the rats could not overcome in the same Galápagos environment that Charles Darwin studied while developing his evolution theory. The rodents’ demise, however, will finally permit the islands’ native biodiversity and ecosystems to return to their natural levels.