‘Team rat’ leader named Conservationist of the Year

Published on 16 May 2016 in News and comment

A university professor who is leading the world’s largest rodent eradication project has been named Conservationist of the Year.

_89671647_tonymartincreditrolandgockelTony Martin, professor of animal conservation at Dundee University, received the award from the Zoological Society of London.

Prof. Martin leads the South Georgia Heritage Trust which seeks to reverse two centuries of damage to the south Atlantic seabird sanctuary by rats.

Eradicating the rats would allow an estimated 100 million seabirds to recolonise the archipelago and save the South Georgia Pipit, which can only be found on the island, from eventual extinction.

Prof Martin said: ‘I am immensely proud to receive ZSL’s Conservationist of the Year award, and do so on behalf of the many people who contributed to this landmark project.

‘It was a privilege to lead such a remarkable team of people, “Team Rat” as we became known, on this breath-taking sub-Antarctic island.

‘It’s gratifying that there are already signs of recovery on South Georgia, thanks to our combined efforts.’

Monitoring work has indicated that the first phase of baiting the rats was successful. A large survey at the end of 2017 will assess whether the areas baited during the second and third phases were similarly effective in removing every single rodent.