Tommy Hall, Project Manager for Island Conservation, recently returned from a trip to Island-Ocean Connection Challenge Islands Ulong and Ngerkeklau in Palau. Invasive rats were removed from Ngerkeklau in 2022 and Ulong in 2023, and today we are beginning to witness the ecosystems’ recovery first-hand.

“On Ulong, we’re seeing more rare birds than ever before, including Nicobar Pigeons and Endangered Palau Ground-doves, thanks to our network of cameras across the island. With the help of AI, we’re able to quickly analyze tens of thousands of images to measure the impacts to the ecosystem,” said Tommy.

Island Conservation Project Manager Tommy Hall with the specially trained team of Conservation Officers and Rangers from Koror State Government Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement.

This is particularly significant on Ulong, which is one of the most iconic tourist sites in the Rock Islands and was notorious for its dense rat population.

“Tourists are enjoying Ulong without worrying about rats for the first time ever,” Tommy added.

Nicobar Pigeon by JavAlvarezS

Reports from Ngerkeklau Island, Palau are equally as inspiring.

“Ngarchelong State Rangers are reporting an increases in baby Land Crabs, Coconut Crabs, and seeing more birds, and the forest is growing stronger and healthier,” said Tommy.

The Ebiil Society continues to restore the native plant populations with the island community. Without rats, the new trees are taking hold and the island continues to thrive with a healthy Micronesian Megapode population.

A Ngarchelong State Ranger commented, “We are seeing baby megapods running around and there are a lot more crabs, plenty of crabs now!”

Micronesian Megapode. Photo: Island Conservation

Monitoring on both land and in the sea to document the impacts of invasive rat removal is on-going by Island Conservation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We look forward to sharing those results as soon as we can!