O combate à invasão de roedores nas Galápagos está a levar o governo do Equador a uma operação de larga escala. As ilhas – campo de investigação de Darwin – foram invadidas por ratos, que se alimentam dos ovos das espécies de aves e répteis do arquipélago, quase extinguindo algumas delas. O investimento e os meios utilizados para controlar esta invasão são enormes:
The effort, costing some US$3 million so far, is not the biggest rat eradication ever attempted. But it is one of the most high-profile and challenging. Before conservationists and scientists could start attacking the rodents, they had to ensure that their poison would not take out some of the unique — and endangered — mockingbirds, finches, rails, iguanas and tortoises famously described by Charles Darwin. And whereas most rat eradications so far have targeted remote, uninhabited islands, the Galapagos is home to some 30,000 people and receives around 180,000 visitors each year. With so much boat traffic, the risk of reinvasion will be very high, says James Russell, an ecologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who has a special interest in rat invasions. “Their real challenge is going to be that biosecurity,” he says.
For those involved, the anti-rat campaign is worth the trouble and the risks. It promises to allow unique species to flourish again and, building on the prior removal of feral pigs and goats from much of the archipelago, to make Ecuador a world leader in the eradication of invasive species. “Galapagos is up there in the front line looking to make the next big leap in multi-species pest management,” Russell says.
Mais perto de nós existe um problema semelhante: os Açores sofrem também com o excesso de ratos, que estão a prejudicar a agricultura. De acordo com investigadores da universidade local, é “necessário aprofundar o estudo do problema”.
Imagem: Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/FLPA; Island ConservationEtiquetas:Açores, animais invasores, galapagos, ratos, roedores