Saving 15,000 native species by removing almost 300 cats
In 2022, Parks Australia’s Christmas Island National Park staff saved more than 15,000 native species by removing almost 300 feral cats from the island.
The animals saved were those feral cats kill frequently. These included an estimated 10,800 giant geckos, 4,200 threatened birds and over 380 critically endangered flying foxes.
The Australian Government is investing $4 million into a whole-of-island strategy to eradicate all feral cats on Christmas Island by 2025.
Parks Australia’s staff has worked with the Christmas Island community for more than six years to reduce cat numbers and protect the island’s native species.
The whole-of-island eradication program steps up cat removal on the island and combines a number of methods and technologies to reduce feral cat numbers including trapping and shooting.
The introduction of 15 specially adapted grooming traps has played a key role in the whole-of-island approach. The solar-powered traps are equipped with automated cat detection technology and toxin-dispensing spray devices. They contain a camera and an array of image sensors that distinguish cats from other animals.
The traps themselves have also been modified to suit the unique environment of Christmas Island, where robber crabs the size of footballs can be attracted to baits and crush trap components with their claws. To avoid this, Christmas Island National Park staff armoured the new grooming traps with upturned wheelie bins.
Christmas Island is one of the 20 priority places listed in the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Action Plan. That’s why we’re taking urgent action to protect the species that call the Island home.
Domestic cat ownership is strictly controlled on Christmas Island. Only registered, desexed cats can be kept and no new cats can be imported. This means that the domestic cat population will eventually decrease to zero.