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Restoration of Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, following control of feral cattle
Among the French islands of the South Indian Ocean, Amsterdam Island is the richest in endemic species but its indigenous terrestrial ecosystem has been drastically modified. Sealers and transoceanic voyagers caused irreversible damage to the native fauna and flora, either directly by fires and culling, or indirectly by introduced mammals. An endemic flightless duck and several petrels have recently become extinct. Nevertheless, some of the endemic flora and fauna have survived and the discovery of a relic population of Amsterdam albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis in 1983 resulted in the establishment of a restoration programme. Five cattle were introduced in 1871 and numbered about 2000 in 1988. At this time the herd was both the main threat to endangered indigenous species and one of the very few feral herds of Bos taurus anywhere in the world. A compromise was decided upon between the urgent need to protect the island and the scientific interest of the herd. The island was divided by a fence. Cattle were removed from the larger part, allowing the terrestrial ecosystem to become rehabilitated. In the other part a management plan is in progress to control the size of the population. The investigation of compromises between biological interest and practicability of the restoration programme is a necessary first step to successful island conservation.
ISSN : 0006-3207 CODEN : BICOBK
Biological conservation A. 1995, vol. 73, n° 3, pp. 199-206 [bibl. : 1 p.1/4]
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