Above picture: A Wandering Albatross chick is perched on its mud and vegetation nest raised above a swampy coastal plain with Marion Island’s mountainous interior as a backdrop; photograph by Sean Evans

Islands are biodiversity hotspots. However, these important island ecosystems are often plagued by invasive species that threaten the native plants and wildlife. To restore the natural biodiversity balance, over 700 eradications have occurred on islands worldwide, with an overall success rate of above 75 percent.

We must remain vigilant and inquisitive about these eradications and continue to learn the lessons from efforts that have been successful and the minority of operations that have failed. Supporters of the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project will know about the unsuccessful eradication attempt on Gough Island in 2021. Regrettably, in August this year, a second unsuccessful eradication effort was reported from Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago. The teams involved with these projects have initiated efforts to investigate the possible factors that may have contributed to the failures of these mouse eradication efforts.

A breeding Wandering Albatross succumbs to attacks by mice and dies on its nest, Marion Island, April 2023; photograph by Anton Wolfaardt

After careful consideration, and to ensure we maximize the opportunity for success, the baiting operation on Marion Island planned for 2025 will be shifted to 2026. This additional time will allow our team to engage with colleagues involved in these unsuccessful eradication efforts and to share their experience and learnings. This will increase our understanding and ensure that all aspects of the planned MFM Project baiting operation are reviewed and, if appropriate, modified to reduce the risk of failure.

Every island has unique environmental and ecological parameters influencing eradication planning and execution. There are differences between sub-Antarctic Marion Island and the sub-tropical Midway Atoll, for example, and whatever may have caused the failure of the baiting on Midway may not necessarily be applicable to Marion Island. Nevertheless, we have one shot at eradicating the mice on Marion Island, and it is responsible and makes absolute sense to seek to understand the possible reasons for the failures on Gough and Midway, before proceeding.

The delay in the baiting operation does not stop our planning or preparation efforts. Our outreach to potential philanthropic partners to help fund the eradication project through the Conservation Campaign for Marion Island remains a priority. You can expect to receive updates on our work on these and other aspects of the project as we move forward. We remain deeply grateful to the dedicated supporters who have helped fund our work and continue championing this important project.

Our commitment to removing the invasive mice from Marion Island and ensuring it is secured as a sanctuary for the region’s seabirds and other biodiversity is unwavering.


Dr Anton Wolfaardt, Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager, 20 September 2023


Breeding Light-mantled Albatrosses 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.