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Latest Darwin award
We are delighted that SGHT has been awarded a grant of £87,000 over two years towards the post-baiting phase of the Habitat Restoration Project by the UK Government’s Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (also known as Darwin Plus). This is our third award from the Darwin Initiative.
New SGHT Chairman
At the SGHT AGM in Cambridge on 18th February 2016 we said farewell to Howard Pearce CVO, who has been our chairman for almost a decade. We welcomed Philippa Foster Back CBE as our new chairman.
We are so grateful to Howard for his exceptional commitment to SGHT since taking over as Chairman in September 2006. The Trust was created through the vision of the late Brigadier David Nicholls, and encouraged and supported by Howard as Commissioner for South Georgia. David was an inspiration to us all and his death in 2006 was a great shock. His legacy is the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and he would be proud of the energy and time that Howard has devoted to it over the last ten years. In the early days of the Trust the possibility of clearing the island of rodents seemed like a pipe dream, and would have remained so, had it not been for Howard's vision and leadership.
We look forward to the coming era under the Chairmanship of Philippa.
Since 2015 cruise ship passengers and staff have been acting as our eyes and ears on South Georgia, as they visit many of the areas previously inhabited by rats and mice. The fantastic news is that not only has there been no reliable sighting of either, but there have been many sightings of the South Georgia Pipit, which cannot successfully breed in areas with rodents present. Pipit nests have been found in the areas treated in all three field seasons, so signs are as good as they can be that the eradication has been a success.
SGHT and FOSGI are now raising funds for a vital survey of the island two years after the last baiting, in the 2017-18 season. We will charter a yacht to sail round the areas treated, deploying detection devices and using sniffer dogs to track down any surviving rodents (although we hope there are none).
We can’t wait to meet the dogs who will be involved, so watch this space for news and photos!
The combination of dogs and monitoring devices will give us the best chance of success in detecting any remaining rats, but it will cost £450,000. Please help us to fund this vital survey work by donating at www.sght.org/make-donation. Thank you!
The South Georgia Pipit cannot breed when rats are present.
The discovery of pipit chicks is confirmation that birds are quickly responding to the absence of rats.
(Photo of pipit nest courtesy South Georgia Newsletter, January 2015 )
Prof. Basberg received his award on the Frigate Unicorn in Dundee.
Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon said:'I’ve been captivated by South Georgia, ever since reading of the plight of Sir Ernest Shackleton as a child.With the centenary of this famous expedition just around the corner, we have a once in a lifetime chance to help return this precious habitat to an eeven better state than that in which Shackleton would have first discovered it. I’m delighted that the UK Government has been able to offer its support to this valuable work and hope that others may be encouraged do the same.’