ISLAND GETAWAY

Conservationists are airlifting goats off a deserted island, to save the island and the goats

The rugged isle of Redonda belongs to Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean country best known for its namesake islands. Redonda, just one mile long, is home to seabirds, reptiles, rodents, and a herd of long-horned goats.

Introduced by colonists about 300 years ago, the rodents and goats have transformed the once-lush island into a barren rock. The goats have overgrazed all the plants, and are now starving to death. The rats, meanwhile, prey on birds’ eggs.

That’s where conservationists come in. According to a BBC report, a handful of environmentalists recently arrived on the island and are camping there temporarily to help implement a government plan to save Redonda. By relocating the goats and eradicating the rats, the conservationists hope to make the area more hospitable for native seabird and reptile species, including the pygmy gecko, which was just discovered in 2012.

Luckily for the goats, the relocation operation sounds comfortable, unlike this 2013 experiment in which two long-horn goats were removed from Redonda via zip-line. The animals are reportedly being swaddled in soft yoga pants and hoodies to stay calm during their helicopter rides to nearby Antigua, where the government plans to breed them.

“We believe it is important to rescue this rare breed because it could have useful drought-adapted genes that would benefit other herds on Antigua and elsewhere,” a government official said last year, when the plan was approved.

The rats, meanwhile, won’t be so lucky. The Redonda campers plan to eradicate the population by feeding them poison-laced treats.

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