An appeal for money to save threatened species in UK overseas territories – including St Helena’s spiky yellow woodlouse – has raised three quarters of its £240,000 target.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds urges would-be donors to support “a team effort” with conservationists, governments and local people.
When the appeal was launched, the organisation’s website said the St Helena Olive tree was the most recent species to be lost.
Since then, the island’s giant earwig has also been declared extinct.
The appeal page says:
St Helena’s precious cloud forest is home to the black cabbage tree, which grows in only one place – and only 250 square metres are left. This habitat is the only place where the spiky yellow woodlouse is found. There are fewer than 50 woodlice left, living on just 20 ferns. We’re creating an artificial forest canopy to keep the ferns the way the woodlice like them.
The Tristan albatross is only found in this territory, with all except two pairs nesting on Gough Island. It’s on the brink of extinction, and sadly introduced house mice eat albatross chicks alive and in total kill over half a million seabird chicks here every year. We’re working on ways of getting rid of the mice.
We’re also taking steps to save the severely endangered Wilkins’ bunting, which only lives on one tiny island in the entire world, Nightingale. There are only 80 pairs in existence, so we’re helping them by planting more of their favourite trees.
The RSPB says a £15 donation can fund a square metre of shade canopy in the St Helena cloud forest.
The website also has a 17-minute film, Invaders of the UK Overseas Territories, about the diversity of Britain’s far-off islands and the threat posed by alien species. St Helenian conservationist Stedson Stroud is shown, telling how seabirds have returned to Ascension after the eradication of feral cats.