Helicopter pilot Peter Garden, of Wanaka, prepares for an autumn in the south Atlantic. Photo by Mark Price
Helicopter pilot Peter Garden, of Wanaka, hopes that early
next year he can place another red dot on his map of the
Each dot represents an island population of rats or mice he
has had a hand in wiping out.
His total now is 26.
Most of the dots cover islands in the Pacific Ocean and
around New Zealand, including Mr Garden's first, Campbell
Island, cleared of rats in 2001.
Mr Garden's next project is a return visit to the remote
South Atlantic island of South Georgia, five days by ship
from the Falkland Islands.
He leaves in February as a member of 26-strong "team rat
2013" who will camp in tents on the glacier-covered island
for up to four months through the autumn and into the winter.
Mr Garden is flight operations manager, leading a team of
four helicopter pilots who will drop bait laced with the
anticoagulant poison brodifacoum.
Most of the work involves eradicating rats, except in one
small area infested with mice.
Mice, he says, are more difficult to completely eradicate
than rats because they have a smaller home range requiring a
more even, and exacting, distribution of poisoned bait.
South Georgia, which has 29 bird species, has already been
partly cleared of rats and at 80,000ha will be the biggest
island to have been cleared of rodents.
The island is a British overseas territory and the project is
being run by the South Georgia Heritage Trust.
Beyond South Georgia, Mr Garden is looking forward to
tackling another British overseas territory in the South
Atlantic, Gough Island, where giant mice up to 25cm from
their noses to the tips of their tails, eat more than a
million seabird chicks every year.