Great Mercury/Ahuahu was declared pest free by the Department of Conservation in May. This followed a rat eradication operation in winter 2014, which has removed kiore, ship rats and feral cats.
All islands in the Mercury group are now free of pests, making the significant biodiversity on the smaller islands much safer from pest invasion from Great Mercury/Ahuahu.
The islands are home to a tusked weta found nowhere else in the world, kaka, saddleback, little spotted kiwi, tuatara, 10 different species of lizards and hundreds of thousands of seabirds.
The operation was partly funded by the island’s part owner Sir Michael Fay, who says the challenge now is keeping the islands pest free.
“All it takes is for one person to allow a stowaway pest on their boat to escape and undo all the hard work that has gone on here in recent years.”