The Tetiaroa Habitat Restoration Project (HRP) focuses on the most significant invasive species on the atoll – the ship rat and the Polynesian rat – which severely reduce the native bird population, and also impact sea turtles, crabs, plants, and marine life. To date, the only eradication of rats was done on Motu Onetahi before The Brando Resort was built.
Last month the project passed a milestone when eradication work was completed on Motu Reiono. An international consortium (Island Conservation, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Auckland University, and Tetiaroa Society), lead by Dr. Araceli Samaniego, have been working there for over a year to determine the best strategy for rat removal. In August the plan was put into action with help from Tetiaroa Society staff and volunteers from the ornithological association SOP Manu. By early September, there were no sign of rats on the motu. The final results of this program will aid in rat eradication projects throughout the tropics.
The next step in Tetiaroa will be to remove rats from the much larger Motu Rimatuu and therefore secure the southern half of the motu. Tetiaroa Society is now working to fund this next step which will lead to a future eradication on all of the northern motu. With both species of rat successfully removed, Tetiaroa would become a sanctuary for not just native birds, but also other native fauna and flora. This would open the potential for transplanting rare and threatened species of birds and plants to the island to protect and nurture their populations.