Yelkouan Shearwater bounces back on Tavolara


Almost two years after the removal of invasive rats from Tavolara Island, Italy, Yelkouan Shearwater is thriving.

The resurgence of seabirds on islands that have been cleared of invasive rodents is a long list of success stories, and on Tavolara the number of Yelkouan Shearwater fledglings has risen from 892 in 2017 to some 7,784 this year.

Yelkouan Shearwater is listed as Vulnerable on the ICUN Red List (Jon Mercer).

In autumn 2017, Città di Olbia, Life Puffinus Tavolara, Natura 2000, Ministero Dell’Ambiente E Della Tutela Del Terrirorio E Del Mare, Area Marina Protetta Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo, Nature Environment Management Operators (NEMO) and Island Conservation joined forces to remove invasive rats from Tavolara, to help restore the island and protect what represents two-thirds of the world’s entire Yelkouan Shearwater population.

Two years later, the species is thriving. Given that such a proportion of the global population breeds on Tavolara – a limestone massif off the north-east coast of Sardinia – breeding success there is crucial for their long-term survival prospects. Presently, Yelkouan Shearwater is listed as Vulnerable on the ICUN Red List.

The removal of the rats has also benefited many other native species and boosted the entire ecosystem of the island, where many rare plant species are recovering, and the island is returning to a pre-invasive species state.