I was giddy with excitement when I read this story last week. Not only did the world become MORE biodiverse when a small population of insects presumed extinct were found on a rock in the middle of the Tasman sea, on top of that, the discovered insects are amazing! Have you seen a picture of them??? They are beautiful. Stunning.
To paraphrase their story, they were common on an island off the coast of Australia, called Lord Howe Island, until a ship stopped there in 1918. On that ship were rats and those rats escaped onto the island. Once on the island, the rats ate all of the giant stick insects. All of them. They were assumed extinct until a few years ago. The insects were found on Ball’s Pyramid- a steep rock jutting out of the ocean- on a remnant bush. Twenty-four of the stick insects were found on the rock. After much consideration, the Australian government allowed scientists to take 4 insects, or 2 pair, off of the rock to start a captive breeding program. Now 700 live in the Melbourne Zoo. Go here to read their whole story.
Now what? They have hundreds of insects ready to go, back out into the wild. But where do we put them? Back on Lord Howe Island? The rats are still there and would still devour the insect population. The best bet is to eradicate the rats from the island, which is done in many, many islands and parks in and around Australia, New Zealand, and the world (check out the work of Island Conservation). A lot of times, this eradication is done to protect native birds, as they evolved without rat predators in many parts of the world. But what about native insects? Are people willing to spend their taxes on eradicating rats to bring back some giant, black stick insects? That is an easy answer for me, but some people might need convincing. That is why I do this blog. To try to exposed and teach the public about the importance and beauty of insects. Is it working? 🙂
The Melbourne Museum is also working on giant stick insect PR and they created this beautiful video that needs sharing: