Above picture:  From left: John Cooper, Anton Wolfaardt, Mark D. Anderson (BirdLife South Africa CEO), Sue Tonin and Robyn Adams with framed infographics of the four albatross species that breed at Marion Island; photograph by Andy Wassung

The Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project Team is widely scattered across three continents.  Most of us do live in South Africa, but here our homes are in three different provinces – and it’s a big country.  A rare opportunity for the four of us who are domiciled in the country’s Western Province to meet up in person was thus not one to be missed, although it still required several hours of driving for two team members to gather for face-to-face discussions in Cape Town.  The opportunity came with the formal opening of BirdLife South Africa’s new home in the southern suburbs last month.  The home, in Main Road, Claremont, is in a newly (and tastefully) renovated Victorian house that was previously medical doctors’ consulting rooms of the Brampton Family Practice.

BirdLife South Africa’s new Claremont home; photograph by Mark Anderson

The MFM Project has an office in the building, occupied by Robyn Adams, the Project’s Communications Officer and Project Assistant.  The house also accommodates BirdLife South Africa staffers involved with various seabird conservation projects, notably the Albatross Task Force, that works at reducing at-sea mortality caused by interactions with fisheries, as well as a group that is helping conserve the Endangered African Penguins.

The ACAP Species Infographic for the Wandering Albatross has been sponsored on behalf of the Mouse-Free Marion Project by BirdLife South Africa; artwork by Namasri (Namo) Niumim


One of our tasks has been to decorate the MFM office by hanging artworks on its walls.  The framed infographics depict the four albatross species, Grey-headed, Light-mantled, Sooty and Wandering, that breed at Marion Island, all of whom have fallen victim to attacks by the island’s introduced House Mice.  These infographics have been produced by the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), from whose website they are freely available for downloading (click here).  The artwork for three of the four has been sponsored by BirdLife South Africa on behalf of the MFM Project.  In addition, two MFM posters, designed by MFM supporter Michelle Risi have had their framing sponsored by Project Team members, John Cooper and Sue Tonin and have joined the infographics on the office walls.

About to set off from a field hut at Grey-headed Albatross Ridge during a Marion Island “Round Island” in April 2005. From left Prideel Majiet, John Cooper and Marienne de Villiers; photograph by Mariette Wheeler

Over a period of three decades, I have visited Marion Island no less than 31 times.  On a number of these relief visits, I have undertaken round-island hikes with companions that lasted up to eight days, staying overnight in coastal field huts.  In fond memory of these excursions, three of my fellow hikers, Marienne de Villiers, Carol Jacobs and Mariette Wheeler, have joined me in sponsoring the printing and framing of the infographics now on display.

John Cooper, the MFM’s Project News Correspondent, poses with the mounted albatross infographics in the MFM office; photograph by Robyn Adams

Over the next year, ACAP will produce infographics for four more species that are at risk to Marion’s mice.  They are the Northern and South Giant Petrels and the Grey and White-chinned Petrels.  As they are released, they will be framed and added to the MFM office’s artwork collection.

John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 07 December 2023


Wandering Albatrosses gather in mutual display on Marion Island; photograph and poster design by Michelle Risi


The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.